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Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Sam Rainsy

Svay Rieng provincial court issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Monday, after he failed to appear at an arraignment in the provincial capital.

Sam Rainsy, who is facing charges of incitement and destruction of property related to a border incident in October, had requested a postponement of Monday’s hearing, claiming he was busy abroad.

Svay Rieng investigating judge Long Kespirum wrote that the request offered “no reason to postpone, so we cannot permit postponement.” The court issued the arrest warrant following the hearing Monday morning, Long Kespirum told VOA Khmer.

Sam Rainsy’s attorney, Choung Chou Ngy, said the decision was made at the discretion of the court.

Sam Rainsy, who had his parliamentary immunity suspended in November, is charged with allegedly leading a group of supporters to unearth markers from the ground in Chantrea district, where villagers said they worried about Vietnamese encroachment.

Two villagers facing destruction charges have been arrested, and three have gone into hiding. Sam Rainsy said on Friday he was fully responsible for the destruction of the markers, and he urged the court to drop the charges against the villagers.

The destruction charges carry a sentence of up to three years in prison. Incitement carries a sentence of up to one year and a fine up to 10 million riel, or $2,500.

The case will now move back to the prosecutor’s office, where it will be reviewed before it is handed to the provincial trial judge.