Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cambodian PM dismisses criticism over trial of opposition lawmaker

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday dismissed criticism on the court's conviction of opposition lawmaker Cheam Channy for allegedly creating an illegal armed force.

"Some people want to use foreign c ountries to press the government to reverse its decision and resume their lawmakership for this guy or that guy," the premier told reporters after meeting with outgoing Malaysia's ambassador to Cambodia.

Hun Sen said he supported the court's decision, and was disgusted with the "so-called wording of exerting international pressure on Hun Sen's government".

Cambodian Military court convicted and sentenced the opposition Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Cheam Channy seven years in prison on Aug. 9 on charges of fraud and forming illegal army to topple the government.

Cheam Channy had been stripped of parliamentary immunity in February along with Sam Rainsy and a third MP Chea Poch.

The US Embassy in Phnom Penh and the US State Department in Washington immediately issued statements condemning the verdict inthe Cheam Channy case and calling on the National Assembly to restore the parliamentary immunity of three opposition lawmakers.

"The conduct of the trial raises again questions about the competence and independence of Cambodia's judiciary, and constitutes further intimidation of opposition voices," the statement said.

"Any pressure on the government from the international community will be worthless, because on the contrary it will only make the jailed man stay in jail longer," Hun Sen pointed out.

"Even if Cambodia needs to eat grass roots and banana trees, Cambodia has to preserve national independence," the premier stressed, adding that "Cambodia is an independent country which needs peace and security."

"The court's business is independent..., Investigation of the case must go on, no matter how far it will lead," he said.

Sam Rainsy fled Cambodia after he and two other party members had their parliamentary immunity revoked in February. Enditem

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