The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has summonsed Sam Rainsy and seven former senior Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) officials to appear for questioning on September 15 over alleged conspiracy against the government.
According to the August 19 summonses issued by prosecutor Seng Heang, Rainsy and the seven conspired in an attempt to topple the government in 2020 and in subsequent years, a crime punishable under articles 451 and 453 of the Criminal Code.
The summonses named the seven others as Eng Chhay Eang, Mu Sochua, Nuth Romduol, Men Sothavrin, Long Ry, Ou Chanrath and Ho Van.
Back in 2021, Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said in a social media post that in furthering plans to return to Cambodia on November 9, 2019 – which he dubbed "Event 11/9" – Rainsy and his faction carried out a number of illegal activities, including inciting and calling on the armed forces and civil servants to revolt against the government; inciting and appealing to the general public to follow suit; and raising funds to support and carry out the above illegal activities.
Citing Rainsy’s appeals, Malin said these were apparently planned for two purposes: First, to enter the country with the intention of capturing the incumbent prime minister and, second, to overthrow the legitimate government derived from the previous national election. This, he explained, amounted to a coup attempt by violent means, and that the "return plan" was done as an excuse and a political ploy to dupe other innocent people into participating in the plot.
"These were [organised] criminal acts and served as strong evidence [of the coup attempt]. Some of this evidence is readily available because Sam Rainsy and his accomplices used Facebook accounts and other social media as a way to post provocative messages to serve their own dishonest plans," Malin said.
According to the Criminal Code, plots to overthrow the legitimate government shall be prosecuted and punished under articles 451 and 453, the former of which covers the actual execution of the plot and carries a prison sentence of between 15 and 30 years while the latter covers conspiring as part of the plot and punishable with a prison sentence of up to 10 years.