Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a summons letter to opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who faces a fine of 10 million riel, or about $2,500, to the National Election Committee for remarks made during the campaign period of July’s national election.
The summons, which Sam Rainsy received Tuesday, requires the leader to appear in court on Feb. 27.
Officials of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party accused Sam Rainsy of breaking the election law by calling them corrupt and accusing them of illegal logging during speeches made in the campaign. The NEC then fined Sam Rainsy 10 million riel, and the Constitutional Council denied an appeal by Sam Rainsy.
The NEC filed a suit against Sam Rainsy in Phnom Penh court in December.
Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer Tuesday he might not appear in court, which he accused as biased against him and incapable of finding a solution of his own complaints against NEC abuse of election laws.
“I did not lash out at leaders of the CPP,” he said. “What I said during the electoral campaign was a direct quote from Global Witness. If the courts want to summon me, why don’t they summon Global Witness.”
The environmental monitor Global Witness issued a report in 2007 linking many high-ranking officials to illegal logging and to Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family.
The report, “Cambodia’s Family Trees,” was subsequently banned in Cambodia.
NEC Sectretary-General Tep Nitha said Tuesday that seven other people who had been fined during the campaign had paid already. Sam Rainsy, the only other person fined during the campaign, is the only one who has not paid, Tep Nitha said.
“I gave him several months to pay the 10 million riel fine from NEC, but now I cannot wait anymore,” he said. “The NEC had to send this case to Phnom Penh court to find justice.”
"Phnom Penh prosecutor Ouk Savuth said Tuesday that if Sam Rainsy does not appear in court, “we will take legal action.”