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Sam Rainsy Calls for Release of Two Farmers

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Friday he would abide by a court summons and return to the country if authorities release two people arrested in December over the alleged destruction of border markers in Svay Rieng province.

Sam Rainsy has had his parliamentary immunity suspended and has a warrant out for his arrest, following failure to appear in Svay Rieng court on Dec. 28.

He is facing charges of racial incitement and the destruction of property, for allegedly leading a group of villagers to uproot border markers in Chantrea district. Villagers there say they are facing the loss of farm land from Vietnamese encroachment.

Speaking to VOA Khmer by phone from France, Sam Rainsy said he would return to Cambodia “when the Khmer authorities release two farmers who have been in jail on Dec. 23 and return the land to those people.”

“I’m responsible for everything,” he said. “I pulled out the border markers. It does not involve those people.”

Sam Rainsy said the border issue was a political case that needed to be solved politically. “I will try to find a solution from the international community,” he said.

Koam Chhean, head of the Svay Rieng court, said Friday authorities had to hold the two farmers. “The law is the law,” he said. “Sam Rainsy understands the law too. Why did he say like that?”