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Without Immunity, Sam Rainsy Flies To Europe

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy left the country Tuesday, to visit family and report on the suspension of his National Assembly immunity to the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Switzerland.

Sam Rainsy has been without immunity since a Feb. 26 vote to revoke it by the National Assembly’s Permanent Committee, after he failed to pay campaigning fines to the National Election Committee.

He has since paid the $2,500 in fines, which were levied for allegedly disparaging remarks made about the leaders of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party during election campaigning last year. However, his immunity remains in suspension.

Sam Rainsy said on Tuesday he would discuss the incident with European representatives of the IPU, an international body of parliamentarians.

“It was not my plan to visit Switzerland, but I reported already to the IPU, so I will spend my time to visit IPU to report about my parliamentary immunity,” he said. “I just told IPU to know that in Cambodia and the National Assembly and the Constitutional Council, the law is not respected. [The CPP members] use the Permanent Committee to threaten members of the National Assembly.”

CPP officials in the National Assembly, which is in recess, could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but National Assembly President Heng Samrin has said the body will reconsider Sam Rainsy’s immunity question when it reconvenes in April.

SRP Deputy Secretary-General Mu Sochua said the Permanent Committee’s withdrawal of the immunity purposely came before a long recess and was a “political” decision.