Three former senior officials of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have asked Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene and help them gain political rehabilitation so that they can return to the country.
The self-exiled trio – Ou Chanrith, Kong Saphea and Heng Danaro – were banned from politics for five years following the late 2017 dissolution after having been convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in connection with a slew of charges including a plot against the government.
“The three of us have been politically active abroad in the past, with no intention other than to restore democracy, freedom and full respect for human rights in Cambodia in accordance with the Constitution. We have not employed malicious tactics, as alleged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court,” they said in their letter dated July 25.
The three, who are living abroad to avoid serving their sentences, asked the premier to pardon them so that they can return.
Sok Eysan, spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), said he had not seen the request, but that they have the right to ask for an acquittal.
He noted that the decision depends on an assessment by the Ministry of Interior on their past actions and activities. It would determine if they were moderate or severe and report their findings to the prime minster. This assessment is not a matter for the CPP, he stressed.
“The ministry is independent and will evaluate their cases. As I understand it, the courts do not prosecute or convict anyone unless they have clear reason to do so,” he told The Post on August 23.
Chhim Kan, director of the ministry’s Department of Association and Political Party Affairs, told The Post on August 23 that the ministry had not yet received the trio’s request. If it did, it would evaluate them fairly, as it had done when requested by others.
Chanrith and other senior officials of the former opposition party have been summoned by the prosecutor’s office of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to appear on September 15 for questioning over alleged conspiracy against the government.