Home > Local News, Politic > Lawmaker fights for immunity

Lawmaker fights for immunity

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua leads a demonstration in Phnom Penh in June last year. Photo by: Pha Lina
Outspoken opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua has demanded a swift
restoration of her parliamentary immunity now that her long-running
spat with Prime Minister Hun Sen has come to a close.

Mu Sochua’s immunity was suspended in 2009 to allow her prosecution in a defamation case brought by Hun Sen.

Speaking
Tuesday, the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian said she will hold a
press conference later this week to demand that her immunity – a right
under Cambodia’s Constitution – be restored.

“My immunity was suspended in a hurry by the assembly, so it must be restored in a hurry,” she said.

“My fine was paid by deductions to my salary, so it is time to restore my immunity.”

Mu
Sochua’s highly-publicised legal battle with Hun Sen started in April
2009, when she filed a defamation suit against him in relation to
comments he made during a speech in Kampot province, in which he
allegedly made derogatory comments about a female parliamentarian from
that province.

The premier countersued and the court ruled
against her, ordering her to pay 16.5 million riel (US$4,084) in fines
and compensation to Hun Sen.

Though Mu Sochua refused to pay –
saying she was willing to go to jail if necessary – the court issued an
order authorising the docking of her salary for four months. The entire
16.5 million riel was eventually paid off in November.

Cheam
Yeap, chairman of the National Assembly’s Banking and Finance
Committee, said that parliament was willing to restore Mu Sochua’s
immunity, but that procedure required that a request come first from
the courts.

“The parliament is waiting for the court’s
request. When the process ends, the court must inform the parliament to
restore the immunity,” he said.

He indicated that as soon as the
court makes a request to parliament, the assembly will convene to 
restore Mu Sochua’s immunity, something which would be possible without
holding a vote.

When contacted Tuesday, Chea Sok Heang, the
judge in charge of the case, declined to comment in detail, saying only
that the court had to wait for a request from Mu Sochua before taking
further action.

Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News, Politic
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