A Change of Guard

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Friday, 27 May 2016

Cambodian court requests police to arrest deputy opposition leader

Xinhua, May 27, 2016

A Cambodian court announced late Thursday that it has requested authorities to hunt for deputy opposition leader and lawmaker Kem Sokha after he refused to appear in the court twice in a prostitution case involving his alleged mistress.

"The prosecutor of Phnom Penh Municipal Court has requested justice police officers to carry out the hunt and arrest of His Excellency Kem Sokha,"the statement said, adding that Sokha committed a "red-handed"crime after he failed to present himself in the court for the second time on Thursday morning.

"The prosecutor of Phnom Penh Municipal Court has decided to charge His Excellency Kem Sokha with 'refusal to appear' under the article 538 of the Penal Code of the Kingdom of Cambodia," it said.

Under the charge, Sokha could face a prison term of between one and six months and a fine of up to 250 U.S. dollars, the statement said.

It added that because Sokha committed the "red-handed" crime, his parliamentary immunity could not protect him against the arrest.

According to the statement, the justice police officers surrounded Sokha's car on Thursday on Norodom Boulevard in Phnom Penh in order to hunt for him, but he was not in the car.

Opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Ou Chanrith confirmed that armed police stopped Sokha's car and surrounded the party's headquarters in Phnom Penh on Thursday, but did not find him.

He said that Sokha is currently hiding in Cambodia, but his whereabouts is not disclosed.

Last month, 25-year-old hairdresser Khom Chandaraty, an alleged mistress of Sokha, admitted of having an affair with him and said that Sokha promised to give her 3,000 U.S. dollars, to buy her a house and to open her a shop in exchange for sex, but he had never honoured his promises.

Khom Chandaraty, better known by her nickname Srey Mom, sued Sokha for breach of trust and demanded a compensation of 300,000 U.S. dollars.

The alleged sex scandal between Srey Mom and Sokha came to light in February when leaked audio clips of telephone conversation between them went viral on the Internet. In the clips, they discussed sex, pregnancy and paying for an apartment.

Since the scandal broke out, Sokha has not publicly commented on the veracity of the audio recordings; instead, he advised supporters not to react to provocations. Endit

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