The Kandal provincial court on Tuesday issued charges against a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker who allegedly helped a party activist escape provisional detention.
The move comes after the suspension of lawmaker Chan Cheng’s parliamentary immunity last week.
Chan Cheng and a party lawyer are accused of helping a party activist, Meas Peng, wanted for questioning in a land dispute between villagers and a ruling-party official flee the detention center, in what both say is a politically motivated case.
Chan Cheng, who is currently in hiding abroad, has said he did not abuse his parliamentary protections by driving Meas Peng away from the detention center, because no formal charges had been issued.
Meas Peng, a deputy commune councilor in Kandal province, was accused of involvement in protests against a company in an ongoing land dispute there and brought in for questioning last month.
Local rights groups said Monday the National Assembly, which is heavily dominated by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, abused its power in revoking Chan Cheng’s immunity ahead of local and national elections in 2012 and 2013, a charge the government rejects.
Ouk Kimseth, Kandal court’s prosecutor, said Chan Cheng and lawyer Chour Chou Ngy were charged with providing transportation to Meas Peng, who has also been charged with “escaping.”
Chan Cheng and Chour Chou Ngy could face up to three years in prison if convicted, he said.
Chour Chou Ngy said Tuesday the accusation was “abusive” and “wrong” and that the Kandal court did not have a detention order to hold Meas Peng at the time they left.