Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Incitement’ complaint filed against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy

‘Incitement’ complaint filed against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy gives an interview on French TV5 Monde televison network on Monday in France. Photo supplied

‘Incitement’ complaint filed against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy

A lawyer for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces filed a complaint accusing former opposition leader Sam Rainsy of “incitement” yesterday, despite Prime Minister Hun Sen vowing on Wednesday to sue his long-time political opponent for “treason”.

Vong Pheakdey, lawyer for the RCAF, told reporters that he “filed a complaint against Sam Rainsy for inciting the armed force to cause insecurity to the state”.

Speaking outside of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Pheakdey said the suit stems from comments made in Paris on Saturday and later posted in a video to Rainsy’s Facebook page on Tuesday. In the video and accompanying text, Rainsy urged the armed forces not to “shoot and kill innocent people”, even if ordered to do so.

Hun Sen called the comments a “declaration of war”.

But yesterday, Pheakdey said the complaint was “related to defamation and incitement to make the armed forces not obey leaders, who are the legitimate government”.

The complaint does accuse Rainsy of threatening national security, but the word treason does not actually appear in the document.

“I would inform the prosecutor that in December 2017, Sam Rainsy incited the armed forces not to obey the orders of the legitimate head of the royal government,” the complaint reads, adding that Rainsy’s actions have “impacted state security”.

“We hope that the court will take action urgently,” Pheakdey added.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Military Commander-in-Chief Pol Saroeun speaks to the press at the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces headquarters in Phnom Penh where he vowed to formally accuse ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy of treason over a recent Facebook post. Pann Rachana

Rainsy has been in self-imposed exile since 2015 to avoid a host of politically tinged convictions. Kem Sokha, Rainsy’s successor as president of the party they co-founded, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, is currently awaiting trial on treason charges for saying he received advice from the US.

The CNRP – the only legitimate competitor to the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party – was dissolved last month by a near-universally condemned Supreme Court decision for allegedly fomenting a foreign-backed “revolution”.

Despite the wording of the new complaint, government spokesman Phay Siphan said it was still the government’s position that Rainsy committed treason.

“We do not take the law into our own hands,” he said, explaining that it was up to the court to decide whether or not to charge him.

Former Deputy CNRP President Mu Sochua said treason charges would be “a total charade”.

She said the lack of a specific complaint related to treason “shows even more they don’t have a case”.

Political analyst Meas Nee said Rainsy would be charged with treason if the government willed it, but with Rainsy abroad in France, he wondered what the point of the suit was.Calling Rainsy’s remarks “extreme”, Nee said the personal animus between Rainsy and Hun Sen is “nothing that could help this country out of the current political tension”.

Rainsy, however, defended his comments as simply upholding “democracy and humanity”.

“Begging soldiers not to shoot at and kill innocent people – including citizens from all walks of life who exercise their constitutional right to protest peacefully – is neither an act of treason nor an act of sedition.”

Updated Friday, 8 December, 6:50am

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42