The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has concluded its investigation into two criminal cases of incitement and insult against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy.
In two separate letters dated on January 28 and 29, and became public yesterday, Judge Ham Mengse said investigation into the two cases against Mr Rainsy are now complete and the cases are ready to proceed.
One of the letters said Mr Rainsy was charged with demoralisation of the army, including inciting military personnel to disobey orders.
In 2017, Mr Rainsy called on the armed forces to disobey orders if they were ordered to shoot civilians.
“For this criminal case, we have completed its investigation,” Judge Mengse said.
Mr Rainsy was charged with Articles 471 and 472 of the criminal code.
Judge Mengse said that an investigation on Mr Rainsy’s insulting the King was also concluded.
Last year, Mr Rainsy was charged with insulting King Norodom Sihamoni after claiming that a royal election letter was fake or written under duress.
Under a new law, those who defame the royal family could face up to five years in jail and be fined for up to $12,500.
Sam Sokong, one of Mr Rainsy’s defence lawyers, yesterday said that he and his colleagues are prepared to defend their client in a trial.
“We are optimistic that our client is innocent. He did not commit any crime, and we hope the judge will reveal all evidence he has,” Mr Sokong said. “We have also prepared our own evidence and will wait for the trial in order to prove that our client did nothing wrong.”
Mr Sokong said that Mr Rainsy, who is living in exile overseas, would be willing to testify via Skype if the judge needed him to do so.
Mr Rainsy has lived in exile since 2015 after being hit with slew of court cases, including by Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly president Heng Samrin.
Mr Rainsy refused to comment in an email.
However in a Facebook post on Saturday, Mr Rainsy reiterated his intention to return to the Kingdom, saying that his return depends on the situation.
Mr Rainsy said that he would neither come back to be killed like political analyst Kem Ley, who was gunned down in July 2016, or be arrested like former opposition party president Kem Sokha.
“Whatever we do, we must make the people win. We must organise a plan which will be successful. We can’t let them smash us easily,” he said.
Last year, Mr Rainsy also made a wager with Mr Hun Sen on when Mr Sokha would have his treason charges dropped.
Meng Sopheary, one of Mr Sokha’s lawyers, yesterday said she and others are aware of the outcome of the wager, noting that Mr Rainsy deserves to be discredited for the wager.
“The lawyers have earlier issued a statement calling on cancellation over the bet because we did not want him [Mr Rainsy] to be arrested or dead, because it would cause negative effects on Mr Kem Sokha,” she said, “Now that he could not fulfil his promise, he puts the blame on others.”
Mr Rainsy and Mr Sokha were political allies at one point when they both joined to create the now dissolved CNRP.
Recent comments from both sides suggest a rift between the two, as Mr Rainsy was appointed as CNRP acting president by some overseas supporters.
Mr Sokha is currently on bail under court supervision, confined to a four-block radius around his home in Phnom Penh, while awaiting a trial for his treason charges.