The Supreme Court yesterday denied jailed opposition lawmaker Um Sam An’s motion to halt judicial proceedings against him on the grounds his detention was “unlawful” as he still enjoyed parliamentary immunity.
Sam An, who was arrested in April for his controversial posts on Facebook relating to the Vietnam-Cambodia border issue, is currently on trial in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for incitement to cause a felony and to cause discrimination.
The parliamentarian and his legal team walked out of the first hearing earlier this month after their request for a postponement to await the Supreme Court’s ruling was turned down. The trial is scheduled to resume on October 10.
“I am not interested in the Supreme Court’s verdict, because as we know, the court is a chess game and I am a pawn,” he said to reporters after the verdict.
Presiding judge Soeng Panhavuth said the detention of Sam An was in compliance with the Constitution and legislation on lawmakers. “After considering the [defence] lawyers’ complaint on the charges against Um Sam An and a request to nullify procedures, we have decided not to accept the appeal,” he said yesterday.
Sam An’s lawyer, Hem Socheat, said his client still had immunity because the assembly had yet to vote to strip him of the privilege. He added that he was considering filing an appeal with the Supreme Council of Magistracy for clarification on Article 80 of the Constitution, which deals with immunity.