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Lawmaker’s Parliamentary Immunity Renewed

The National Assembly on Friday renewed parliamentary immunity for an opposition lawmaker who was absolved of criminal charges last year.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Ho Vann’s immunity was reinstated at the request of the Ministry of Justice, five months after his September 2009 acquittal of disinformation charges in a suit filed by senior military officials.

“The suspension was very quick and surprising, but the return was very late,” Ho Vann said Friday. “I think I was victimized at the time my parliamentary immunity was suspended. And when I got it back late, this is the second victimization.”

He had been happy to receive a letter from the National Assembly informing him of the renewal, he said.

Critics have warned that the courts are being used to crack down on dissent, through criminal court cases on charges like disinformation or defamation.

Ny Chakry, chief investigator for the rights group Adhoc, called the renewal a “good sign” for the legislature and for the parliamentary work of Ho Vann.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader himself, Sam Rainsy, and senior party member Mu Sochua both remain without their parliamentary immunity.

Sam Rainsy is in exile and facing a two-year prison term if he returns. The government has filed suit against him for allegedly publishing a false map on his party’s Web site.