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Parliament To Debate Opposition Immunity

The National Assembly will wait until June 22 to decide on whether to suspend parliamentary immunity for an opposition representative mired in a defamation suit with the prime minister.

A member said Monday the committee will investigate the claims of Prime Minister Hun Sen that a lawsuit brought against him by Sam Rainsy Party member Mu Sochua was itself defaming.

Mu Sochua sued Hun Sen in April for degrading and sexist remarks he allegedly made during the 2008 national election campaign. The court has dropped that suit and is now pursuing Hun Sen’s countersuit.

Cambodia’s court system is widely seen as politically biased toward Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party, despite efforts by international donors who push for judicial reform.

The CPP now dominates the National Assembly with 90 of 123 seats.

Sok Roeun, deputy prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, wrote a letter to the president of the National Assembly on June 10 to request the suspension of Mu Sochua’s parliamentary immunity through the Ministry of Justice.

Cheam Yiep, CPP chairman of the National Assembly’s finance committee and a member of the permanent committee, told VOA Khmer Monday the permanent committee would put the suspension request to the full session.

“The suspension of Mu Sochua’s parliamentary immunity has been put onto the agenda for the full session on 22 June, to pave the way for the whole session to pass it,” he said. “I think that the National Assembly respects and implements particularly the request by the Ministry of Justice.”

Mu Sochua told VOA Khmer she supported the decision, because she wants the entire National Assembly to debate the request.

“I understand that the suspension of my parliamentary immunity is very unjust,” she said. “I do not worry about the suspension of my parliamentary immunity, but I ask [the permanent committee] to implement the law and to respect the constitution as our supreme law,” she said.

“I’m not making any preparations besides facing the court,” she said. “The constitution and the court have been violated. The suspension of my parliamentary immunity is not responsible and would violate the constitution.”

Mu Sochua said she would not run from the charges.

“I will not flee the country,” she said, “and I would like to clearly confirm that I am not going any place outside the country.”