Mu Sochua’s immunity will not be affected by the law but it could be difficult for her to get it back

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mu Sochua speaking to a newspaper vendor (Photo: Jarred Ferrie, The National)

29 July 2009
Rasmei Kampuchea
Translated from Khmer by Socheata

A high-ranking official from the National Election Committee (NEC) said in the afternoon of 28 July that, if the court finds Mrs. Mu Sochua guilty of defaming Hun Xen, this sentence will not affect her political rights once she pays off the fine imposed by the court. Nevertheless, political analysts said that, most likely, there is little chance for Mu Sochua to receive back her parliamentary immunity according to the law and the explanation provided by Cheam Yeap, the CPP chairman of the National Assembly (NA) finance committee and a member of the NA permanent committee.

Tep Nitha, NEC secretary-general, told Rasmei Kampuchea yesterday that: “In the event the court finds Mrs. Mu Sochua guilty in this defamation lawsuit case, her sentence will not affect her right to receive her immunity back.” Tep Nitha added: “This is a light sentence. It’s only a sentence with a fine. It is not a sentence with jail time.” According to Tep Nitha’s explanation, the law only prevents those who are sentenced to jail from voting. This means that people who are not sentenced to jail time, have the right to vote and to present their candidacy during the elections.

Cheam Yeap claimed that when Mrs. Mu Sochua will be done paying her fine, and the court will send a letter to the minister of Justice so that the latter informs the NA about the fine payment, then the NA will move according the rule to decide on Mrs. Mu Sochua’s immunity. However, he also claimed that: “It’s like the case of Mr. Sam Rainsy, whichever way it came in, it will go back out the same way.”

Political analysts said that if they comment on Cheam Yeap’s claim, Mrs. Mu Sochua will have great difficulty to get her immunity back without the support from CPP MPs. Mrs. Mu Sochua saw her immunity lifted with the vote of 2/3 of the MPs. Therefore, [based on Cheam Yeap’s claim that] whichever way the case came in, it will go back out the same way, then Mrs. Mu Sochua must find 2/3 of the 123 MPs’ vote to get her immunity back.

Hun Xen also issued a warning to CPP MPs ordering them to reject their support. Therefore, Mrs. Mu Sochua’s case is different from that of Sam Rainsy because the latter’s immunity was suspended by the NA’s permanent committee and it was re-instated back by the permanent committee.

As for Mrs. Mu Sochua, she claimed that she will go to court to listen to the announcement of her sentence on 04 August, she believes that a fine sentence should not lead to a [permanent] loss of her immunity.


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