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Cablegate: Provincial Court Sets Sam Rainsy Trial Date

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OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0016 0120336
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 120336Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1538
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000016

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KTIA KJUS CB
SUBJECT: PROVINCIAL COURT SETS SAM RAINSY TRIAL DATE

REF: PHNOM PENH 949

1. (SBU) Summary: The Svay Rieng Provincial Court announced
on January 8 that it will try opposition party leader Sam
Rainsy on January 27. Rainsy, currently in France, did not
appear on December 28 as summoned to answer questions before
the court on charges of public destruction of property and
incitement, and does not plan to attend the January 27
hearing. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Rainsy faces two charges: public destruction of
property and incitement to discrimination. The property
destruction charge, Article 52 under the United Nations
Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) penal code carries
a possible prison sentence of one to three years, although
the law specifies that if the damaged property is of little
monetary value, the prison sentence could be lowered to
between two months and one year. The incitement charge
(UNTAC Article 61) carries a possible prison term of one
month to one year and a possible fine of one million to ten
million riels (USD 250-2,500).

3. (SBU) Three others, in addition to Rainsy, are evading
summonses related to this incident; two more defendants are
in pre-trial detention. Previously, Rainsy stated he would
return for questioning and trial only if the government
declared innocent all of the other individuals involved in
the incident and agreed to return the disputed land to the
villagers. The villagers claim that Cambodian and Vietnamese
officials encroached on the villagers' private land when
demarcating the border. After Rainsy failed to appear for
questioning as summoned, the court issued a warrant for his
arrest on December 29.

4. (SBU) Although video of the incident shows Rainsy did not
personally remove the temporary wooden place-locators that
mark the cement border marker 185 (which remains extant in
its original location), he continues to claim responsibility
for the act as a symbolic political gesture. Tioulong
Saumura, Member of Parliament, a Sam Rainsy Standing
Committee member, and Rainsy's spouse, told Pol/Econ Chief
that Rainsy will not return to Cambodia for the January 27
hearing because "he will be more effective out of jail in
France than in jail in Cambodia." If convicted, Rainsy may
lose his parliamentary seat, according to Article 14 of the
Law on the Status of National Assembly Members. Sam Rainsy
Party members continue their efforts to appeal to the King
for a royal pardon for Rainsy's actions.
ALLEGRA

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