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Opposition Plans Criminal Court Suit Against Hun Sen

Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy meet for the first time after election on Sept 14, 2013. (Photo by Heng Reaksmey VOA Khmer)
Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy meet for the first time after election on Sept 14, 2013. (Photo by Heng Reaksmey VOA Khmer)
Opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha say they plan to file suit against Prime Minister Hun Sen at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

The leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party say ongoing crackdowns against activists and protesters, combined with a track record of violence against dissent, mean Hun Sen should face charges at the court.

At least four people were killed Friday when an elite military unit opened fire into a crowd of demonstrators.

Sam Rainsy, Rescue Party president, told reporters Tuesday that 21 of the 40 injured demonstrators would be taken overseas to meet with international lawyers.

Kem Sokha, the party’s vice president, said the recent violence was not the only crime Hun Sen should be held responsible for. He also cited the 1997 coup and subsequent extrajudicial killings of opponents to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the opposition is merely working against the prime minister and that the ICC would be unlikely to take the case.

Statements by both opposition leaders mark a continuation in an increasingly acrimonious relationship between the ruling and opposition parties.

Both leaders have been summoned to court next week to answer against charges related to violence that has occurred in recent demonstrations.

Government critics say that action appears to be a move to strengthen the ruling party’s negotiating position as both sides prepare for political talks to solve a political deadlock that has been in place since July’s national elections. It is unclear how talks will now proceed.

Meanwhile, the CPP celebrated an annual Jan. 7 holiday on Tuesday, marking the controversial day in 1979 when Vietnamese forces ousted the Khmer Rouge from Phnom Penh and began a decade-long occupation of the country.

Heng Samrin, the honorable president of the CPP, told a crowd Tuesday the ruling party was still willing to negotiate with the opposition.

The Rescue Party has said it will not negotiate following last week’s violence.

But on Tuesday, Sam Rainsy said the opposition is “ready to meet, to solve the rest of these problems at all levels.”