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Sochua in legal limbo

Outspoken opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua could remain without her
parliamentary immunity for up to five years, according to a leaked
letter from the Ministry of Justice, drawing criticisms from legal
experts who say her immunity should have been restored already.
SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua (left) speaks during a press conference in Phnom Penh in January. Photo by: Sovan Philong
a January 28 letter to the National Assembly, Long Phol, a secretary of
state at the Ministry of Justice, stated that Mu Sochua could have her
immunity restored in two ways.
She can either lodge a request
with the Appeal Court a year after her punishment is completed, or wait
for the immunity to be restored automatically, five years after the
completion of her punishment.
“The restoration of lawmaker Mu
Sochua’s immunity depends on the consideration of the parliament
conforming to the consciousness of the law on lawmaker’s conditions,
parliament’s internal order and the penal procedure code,” read the
letter, a copy of which was obtained yesterday by The Post.
Mu Sochua’s immunity was suspended in 2009 to allow her prosecution in a defamation case brought by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
highly publicised legal battle with the premier started in April of
that year, when she filed a defamation suit against him in relation to
comments he allegedly made about her during a speech in Kampot province.
premier countersued and the court ruled against her, ordering her to
pay 16.5 million riels (US$4,084) in fines and compensation.
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 amount was eventually paid off by this method in November.
contacted today, Mu Sochua said that she did not understand the
contents of the letter, a copy of which she received from the National
“I looked at the law and I let legal experts look at, and they do not know how to explain it,” she said.
“The court convicted like this, unjustly like this, and the law is vague like this, I don’t know what more to do.”
Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said
that there was no legal reason for Mu Sochua to wait for the
restoration of her immunity since she had paid her fines in full.
“If punishment was completed, restore her immunity,” Sok Sam Oeun said.
Sok Sam Oeun drew a comparison with somebody jailed for five years for a crime.
said that person would not need to request release, since they would be
released automatically at the completion of their term.
“I don’t know, I don’t understand,” he added.
Chhaya, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, agreed
that if the court has docked her salary already, her immunity must be
restored immediately.
“There has never been anyone whose immunity has been lifted and delayed one year or five years,” he said.
Yeap, a senior lawmaker for the Cambodian People’s Party, said Mu
Sochua’s case was minor and that her immunity would be restored in
November 2011, a year after the completion of her punishment. He added
that the delay was in conformity with the law.
Phnom Penh Post
Categories: Local News, Politic
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