Five former opposition party members were questioned yesterday by Battambang Provincial Court after they were summoned for allegedly violating a Supreme Court decision dissolving the party.
Former CNRP members Reun Kep, Phat Reth, Kun Samorn, Sang Bunmao and Som Vongdara appeared before the court after they were summoned to be questioned earlier this week.
Mr Kep, former chief of Kdol Doun Teav commune, said he was questioned by provincial court prosecutor Ky Bunnara over a meeting he had with Sin Rozeth, former O’ Char commune chief, at her noodle shop.
“The prosecutor asked me to tell him what the meeting was about and I had to explain a Facebook post of us getting together,” Mr Kep said. “I told him that I went to the shop and no one forced me.”
Mr Kep said Mr Bunnara reminded him of the dissolution of the CNRP, and warned him not to conduct illegal activities.
Sam Sokong, defence lawyer, said the court focused mainly on their support of the appointment of Sam Rainsy as acting party president in December.
“My clients were alleged that they continued working for a banned party,” Mr Sokong said. “From a legal perspective, my clients had done nothing wrong. They did not violate the Supreme Court’s ruling.”
Mr Sokong said if his clients were charged and convicted, then the judge’s decision would be politically motivated.
Mr Bunnara declined to comment yesterday, while provincial chief prosecutor Nuon San referred the question to a court spokesman who could not be reached.
According to a court statement, a total of 26 former CNRP officials were summoned for allegedly violating the Supreme Court’s decision.
Human Rights Watch yesterday issued its own statement calling on the authorities to cease the harassment of former CNRP members in courts.
“The Cambodian government continues to harass numerous opposition officials in the courts and to threaten them with prison time long after the main opposition party was unjustifiably disbanded,” said HWR Asia director Brad Adams. “The government should immediately end the political harassment campaign against the CNRP and drop this latest batch of absurd court cases.”
Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday dismissed HRW’s statement and accused the NGO of being an opposition group.
“The group’s statement has clearly stirred anger among opposition groups who are against a legitimate government,” Mr Siphan said. “It was an arrangement to portray these opposition members as victims because of their activities.”
“They should dedicate more effort to gather evidence and clear the allegation, but they didn’t do that,” he added.