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Sam Rainsy Expecting Intervention in Court Charges

Exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who was tried in absentia Wednesday for forgery and disinformation, said in an interview he expects some level of international intervention in his case.

Speaking from France following a hearing in Phnom Penh, Sam Rainsy said he believed a “political solution” exists to the charges leveled against him after he published a border map on his party's website that the government has said is illegal.

The map shows purported encroachment by Vietnam—a potentially incendiary subject among some Cambodians. The government is accusing Sam Rainsy of forging a map and distributing it to incite unrest.

Sam Rainsy faces a potential 18 years in prison under disinformation laws if convicted. The verdict is expected Sept. 23.

“We do not need to be impressed by the court's announcement of the verdict, or conviction, or trial,” Sam Rainsy said. “This is confusing. There will definitely be a higher solution, on the international level, before 2012-2013.”

Sam Rainsy declined to give details on what that solution might be or how it might play out.

Cambodia will hold local-level commune council elections in 2012 and national parliamentary elections the following year, but this year both Sam Rainsy and minority opposition party leader Kem Sokha are facing court challenges.

Kem Sokha, whose Human Rights Party holds three seats in the National Assembly, has been charged with falsifying documents when he was the head of a human rights organization prior to entering politics.

Sam Rainsy, whose party has 26 seats in parliament, is also facing a two-year jail term for uprooting markers along the Vietnam border in Svay Rieng province.