The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced on Tuesday that arrest warrants for Sam Rainsy had now been sent to all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member states.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ket Sophann said on Tuesday that the issuing of warrants for the arrest of Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, had followed procedure.
“The work has been done within the framework of international cooperation in the crime and justice sector. Cambodia has carried it out according to procedure,” Sophann told The Post on Tuesday.
Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Laos and Thailand had already received warrants for Rainsy’s arrest.
Rainsy told The Post on Tuesday that only some Asean countries would cooperate with Hun Sen’s request to arrest him.
“[This is] because a number of neighbouring countries tended to embrace a more democratic approach. Hun Sen has sided with China, which is leading an aggressive and expansionist policy threatening a number of those neighbouring countries,” Rainsy said.
However, government spokesperson Phay Siphan said countries in the region would cooperate with Cambodia because Rainsy had broken the Kingdom’s laws.
“Sam Rainsy’s case is not politically motivated. It comes from criminal acts. He is not a simple criminal but a terrorist who has incited people to rise up. Doing this is an act of terrorism.
“Asean has signed an agreement to fight terrorism. Therefore, any rejection of cooperation would mean interference into Cambodia’s internal affairs,” Siphan said.
Meanwhile, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has issued the latest arrest warrant against Rainsy concerning comments deemed to have insulted King Norodom Sihamoni.
Investigating Judge Koy Sao issued the warrant on Monday and ordered police to arrest Rainsy immediately so he could be placed in pre-trial detention.
This was to ensure that he would participate in the court proceedings, Judge Sao said.
Rainsy’s latest charge stems from comments made during an interview with Radio Free Asia last Thursday in which he said the King had been “taken hostage” by Hun Sen and was his “puppet”. He said the King only sought to keep the throne.
Rainsy was sentenced in May to four years for previously violating lese majeste laws.
Ministry of Justice spokesperson Kim Santepheap explained on Tuesday that Rainsy could now face up to 10 years in prison in this latest case.
“According to Articles 83, 88 and 437 of Cambodia’s Criminal Code, the convicted [Rainsy] faces subsequent offences for ‘insulting the King’. Hence the maximum penalty can be doubled from five years to 10 if the court finds him guilty again,” Santepheap said.
Rainsy responded by saying: “I am laughing because we will see this kangaroo court continue to frenetically issue – with no effect whatsoever – more and more unreal arrest warrants against me, given the fact that I have subsequently made similar comments intended to open a democratic debate on the more and more controversial role of the current King.”