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Immunity Lift Should Not Be Used: Researcher

A proposal to lift the immunity of opposition leader Sam Rainsy should not be used in a case over unpaid election fines, a senior rights official said Monday.

“The method of lifting immunity should not be used in this case,” said Lao Monghay, a researcher at the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission. “There will be public concern, especially among opposition supporters.”

The National Election Committee has ordered Sam Rainsy to pay 10 million riel, or $2,500, in fines, following remarks about the ruling Cambodian People’s Party during campaigning last year, but the opposition leader has refused to pay.

Justice officials are considering a request to lift his parliamentary immunity in the National Assembly over the refusal.

However, Lao Monghay said the case was civil, and refusal to pay should lead to the seizure of property, not a penal prosecution.

He disagreed with a Sam Rainsy proposal to seek a pardon from the king if an appeal over the fines fails in the Supreme Court, saying it would be unfair to others who face similar charges.

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yiep said Monday he had not seen a proposal to lift Sam Rainsy’s immunity yet, but said if Sam Rainsy paid the fine, the matter would be over.