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Deputy Opposition Leader Kem Sokha Ignores Another Court Subpoena

Cambodia's main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party Deputy President and National Assembly Deputy President Kem Sokha, center, speaks to reporters outside the Phnom Penh Municipality Court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, April 8, 2015.

On May 26, armed police attempted to detain Kem Sokha after he missed a Phnom Penh Municipal Court appearance.

A spokesman for Cambodia’s main opposition party on Friday told reporters that Kem Sokha, the acting president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, had once more refused to attend a court session where he was scheduled to be questioned.

Yem Ponharith, a CNRP lawmaker for Prey Veng province, said the party maintained that Kem Sokha was immune from legal action under the constitution unless there was clear evidence of a crime having been committed.

The announcement came after Than Leng, the judge investigating Kem Sokha over solicitation allegations, issued a subpoena late on Thursday for previous refusals to attend court.

“Kem Sokha has repeatedly said he is a lawmaker holding immunity, so he will not go to the court... but we are still studying the legalities with the lawyers to discern whether the law has been properly and fully implemented or not,” he said.

On May 26, armed police attempted to detain Kem Sokha after he missed a Phnom Penh Municipal Court appearance where he was due to be questioned over solicitation allegations.

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s 68 lawmakers unanimously voted in favor of continued legal action against Kem Sokha on Monday amid an opposition boycott of the session.

Than Leng, the investigating judge, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Taing Sunlay, the court director, declined to comment on the ongoing case, referring questions to a spokesman, who could also not be reached.

Four rights workers from local NGO Adhoc – Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vonda and Lim Mony – were early last month detained along with election official Ny Chakrya as part of the investigation into Kem Sokha.

The rights workers were charged with bribing a witness while Ny Chakrya was accused of being an accomplice to the act of bribery.

A local official from Kampong Cham province, Seang Chet, was also jailed.

Kem Sokha is alleged to have engaged in an affair with a woman named Khom Chandaraty, also known as Srey Mom.

Both the United States and the European Union have expressed their concerns over the case against Kem Sokha, calling for a resumption of the so-called culture of dialogue between the two parties.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday responded to the concerns by saying the critics did not understand Cambodia’s legal system.