Cambodian opposition leader flees to Paris

4th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

BANGKOK, Feb 4 (AFP) - Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy has headed for France a day after fleeing Cambodia following a parliamentary vote to strip him of his immunity from prosecution, senior officials said here Friday.

BANGKOK, Feb 4 (AFP) - Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy has headed for France a day after fleeing Cambodia following a parliamentary vote to strip him of his immunity from prosecution, senior officials said here Friday.

Sam Rainsy, who faces defamation suits including one from Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) for accusing the premier of plotting to kill him, fled Phnom Penh for Singapore early Thursday and then carried on to Bangkok.

"He left for Paris at midnight alone, but the rest of his family will return to Phnom Penh. He had landed here from Singapore," Lieutenant-General Amarin Niemskul, commander of the Immigration Bureau, told AFP.

Thai authorities said they had rejected the entry of Sam Rainsy as his presence "would put Thailand in an awkward position," General Jumpol Manmai, chief of the National Intelligence Agency told AFP.

Sam Rainsy's deputy Cheam Channy was arrested in Phnom Penh on Thursday after being accused of building an army as part of a coup plot, which analysts have dismissed as being extremely unlikely.

Earlier, parliament had voted to strike down rules protecting the two men and a third politician from prosecution, clearing the way for the three to face charges.

Sam Rainsy, who has frequently fled from Cambodia in the past during periods of unease, had said he feared arrest if his immunity was lifted.

The royalist FUNCINPEC party has filed defamation suits against Sam Rainsy and fellow lawmaker Chea Poch for alleging its leader Ranariddh accepted bribes in return for joining Hun Sen's coalition government in July 2004.

The formation of government ended a year of uncertainty and feuding among politicians after inconclusive national elections.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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