The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday postponed the trial of exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy and his two assistants—charged over a Facebook post deemed criminal—out of consideration for the death of Mr. Rainsy’s mother-in-law.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Mr. Rainsy’s two assistants requested that police investigate the whereabouts of his clients, who are both currently thought to be in France.
All three are facing charges for their involvement in crimes committed by opposition senator Hong Sok Hour when he presented a fake border treaty in a video posted to Mr. Rainsy’s Facebook page. The senator was sentenced to seven years in prison earlier this month for forgery and incitement for presenting a doctored copy of a 1979 border treaty between Cambodia and Vietnam last year.
Mr. Rainsy was officially exiled from the country last month while living abroad to avoid jail time over a separate case. The charged assistants are Sathya Sambath, who was accused of producing the video, and Ung Chung Leang, the manager of Mr. Rainsy’s Facebook page.
Despite their absence, the trial was due to begin on Friday. However, after the death on Thursday of Mr. Rainsy’s mother-in-law, Nhiek Tioulong Measket Samphotre, a postponement was granted.
“Now His Excellency Sam Rainsy’s mother-in-law has died, so he is suffering from sadness,” Mr. Rainsy’s lawyer Sam Sokong said.
Yung Phanith, a lawyer appointed by the Cambodian Bar Association to represent the other two defendants, said he had never consulted with his clients and asked officials to investigate their whereabouts.
“I never met with my clients so I want the court or police to find information on where my clients are,” he said.
Despite a request by the prosecutor to start the trial immediately, Presiding Judge Leang Samnath postponed it until December 9.
Mr. Sok Hour, who was present as a proposed witness, said the suspension of the case made no difference to the outcome.
“We know the result already,” he said while exiting the courtroom.
sovuthy@cambodiadaily.com
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