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National Assembly To Pull Sam Rainsy Immunity

A National Assembly committee on Thursday moved to revoke the parliamentary immunity of opposition leader Sam Raisny, who is facing charges in Svay Rieng provincial court of destruction of property and incitement of racial discrimination.

The Permanent Committee of the Assembly approved a Ministry of Justice request that his immunity be removed for investigation to proceed, said Cheam Yiep, a senior lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

The full Assembly, heavily dominated by the CPP, will vote to revoke Sam Rainsy’s immunity on Monday, Cheam Yiep said.

Sam Rainsy is the third opposition member to lose National Assembly immunity this year, in what critics have called an attack on government dissent through the courts.

Svay Rieng authorities allege that Sam Rainsy provoked villagers into uprooting six temporary poles at border marker No. 185, in Chantrea district, where they had said they worried about Vietnamese encroachment from neighboring Long An province.

In 2005, Sam Rainsy and two other opposition lawmakers had their immunity suspended, when they accused Prime Minister Hun Sen and former National Assembly head Prince Norodom Ranariddh of building up their respective security forces.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the National Assembly was taking a full session to vote on the immunity question at a time when Cambodia “suffers from threats on the eastern and western borders.”

“The ruling party should think of the national interest as the biggest one, but not regard the suspension of Sam Rainsy’s immunity as a priority,” he said.

Kek Galabru, president of the rights group Licadho, said the move to strike Sam Rainsy’s immunity was an act that would frighten other parliamentarians, who “do not dare to speak out or express their opinion.”