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Opposition Party member of parliament, Mr. Chea Poch, Appears in Phnom Penh Court

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party's member of parliament, Mr. Chea Poch, is in a Phnom Penh court Wednesday to present evidence related to his allegation that Prince Norodom Ranaridh, National Assembly's president, accepted bribes worth several millions of dollars and two airplanes from Prime Minister Hun Sen in exchange for the formation of a disfunctional government.

Prince Ranaridh said those allegations are untrue and filed a defamation suit against Mr. Chea. Mr. Chea's lawyer and Civil Society officials appealed to the Phnom Penh court to finish the trial as soon as possible.

Mr. Chea Poch's immunity was lifted by the members of parliament from the National Assembly's ruling parties on February 3rd . He was in self-exile and just returned to Cambodia recently.

Mr. Chea Poch told reporters at the court Wednesday that he and his lawyer, Mr. Mao Sothearith, have enough evidence to present to the court and that he should not be found guilty in the defamation suit. His lawyer said that his client only used his constitutional right as a legislator in expressing his opinion, and that his client is not worried.

Phnom Penh court investigative judge, Mr. Sao Meach, said that this case is still in its procedure.

Mr. chea's lawyer also said that the case has been in court for more than 6 months. He wanted the case to be finished as soon as possible. He did not elaborate what evidence he and his client had.

The UN, the US, EU, NGOs officials, the opposition party, criticized this procedure and the immunity lifting as being illegal. The opposition party said that the charge against Mr. Chea Poch was to silence the party's voice.

Prince Ranaridh's lawyer, Mr. Liv Sovanna said that his client is still filing a defamation suit against Mr. Chea Poch. He also said that Mr. Chea Poch based his accusations on newspapers' reports, not on evidence. Both Prince Ranaridh, and Prime Minister Hun Sen who was also charged, denied the accusations and said that foreign countries should not meddle in Cambodian affairs.

Cambodia Defenders Project's President, Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, said that Mr. Chea Poch's case is not a penal code case, and appealed to all Cambodian leaders to stop filing suits against one another.

VOA has an update. Mr. Khemara Sok files an exclusive report saying that the Phnom Penh Court has issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Chea Poch, according to an opposition party member who claimed he has seen the arrest warrant, and that this move has not been executed yet.