Ex-CNRP’s Sochua says attempt to return for trial fails

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Mu Sochua, former vice-president of the Supreme Court-dissolved CNRP (third from left), with supporters at the Los Angeles International Airport. Sam Rainsy via Facebook

Mu Sochua, former vice-president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), claimed she had failed in her attempt to return for her trial as she did not have the necessary travel document.

In a tweet on January 16, Sochua said she had arrived at Los Angeles International Airport and would travel to Cambodia via Singapore to attend the trial. But shortly afterwards, former CNRP President Sam Rainsy wrote on Twitter that at 3am US time, Sochua was denied boarding on a Singapore Airlines flight to Cambodia because she did not have a visa.

“It’s not because I did not apply for a visa, rather it was because the Hun Sen government denied my constitutional right to face trial,” Sochua said.

Reached by The Post for further comment on January 17, Sochua said: “I went to apply for a visa for my American passport at the Cambodian Consulate in Lowell, [Massachusetts] but they asked me to wait for the decision from Phnom Penh.

“I went to the Cambodian embassy in Washington, DC, to try to activate my Cambodian passport, [but] the embassy closed the doors when we came.”

Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanroth said he had waited for Sochua’s return before deciding whether to form a new political party.

He said the government should issue Sochua a visa for her to return and stand trial.

As for her failed attempt to return to Cambodia, Chanroth said Sochua was aware in advance that the government would not issue a visa for her. He said her attempt was merely to prove to the public that her failure to return was not her fault.

“It also reflects badly on [Sochua]. If you realise that you are not allowed to enter the country but still try to do it anyway, then we can say in simple language that [it is] demagoguery in order to make people anxious.

“We know clearly that the government will not issue her a visa, so she will not be able to enter the country. There is no need to buy [an] air ticket without [a] visa,” he said.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said the attempt to return was merely a stunt.

“Her attempt does not seem good, flying from the US to Singapore and got stuck [there], only to return to the US later [and] finally staying at home,” he said in a Facebook post.

Cambodian Youth Party president Pich Sros also wrote in an open letter that Sochua’s attempt to return to Cambodia without visa or passport was her show for supporters and a public deception.