The Constitutional Council announced Tuesday it would uphold
a 10 million riel fine, about $2,500, against opposition leader Sam Rainsy, for
"insulting" the leaders of the Cambodian People's Party during the
The fine stems from a decision by the Kampong Cham Election
Committee ahead of the national election, in a province where Sam Rainsy gave
speeches and referred to a Global Witness report on illegal logging.
The report, "Cambodia's Family Trees,"
implicates a number of high-ranking officials and relatives of Prime Minister
Hun Sen in illegal logging and corruption and was banned in the country following its publication.
The National Election Committee subsequently upheld the
Kampong Cham committee's ruling to fine Sam Rainsy, but it denied a
recommendation to disqualify him as a candidate.
The Constitutional Council upheld the NEC decision to keep
Sam Rainsy as an eligible candidate.
Constitutional Council President Ek Samol said Tuesday after
the hearing that the NEC had decided "in conformity with the law."
"I cannot accept the Constitutional Council's
decision," Thach Setha, Sam Rainsy Party representative in the case, said.
"It is not fair. I am very disappointed for the Constitutional Council,
because [it] does not respect the law. The decision follows politics and the
CPP lawyer Benson Samay said the ruling party accepted the
decision, "because the CPP wants to have the opposition in Cambodian
Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and
Fair Elections, said the council showed the complaint following the legal
"But the Constitutional Council should more clearly
interpret the law," he said.