Cambodian opposition leader flees to Paris

4th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

BANGKOK, Feb 4 (AFP) - Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy declared in Paris Friday that he would return to the kingdom when he receives a court summons, a day after losing his parliamentary immunity and fleeing the country.

BANGKOK, Feb 4 (AFP) - Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy declared in Paris Friday that he would return to the kingdom when he receives a court summons, a day after losing his parliamentary immunity and fleeing the country.

"I am waiting for the summons from the court and precise charges," Rainsy told AFP by telephone shortly after arriving in France.

"Once the court issues the charges, I will go," he said, adding that he would study them to ensure they were legally sound.

Rainsy, who said he was the subject of four complaints, said it was likely that the charges would have basic procedural defects.

In particular, he objected to a defamation suit for having stated that the leader of the royalist FUNCINPEC party Prince Norodom Ranariddh accepted bribes to join a coalition last July.

Questioned on his hasty departure a few hours after he and two of his deputies were stripped of immunity Thursday, Rainsy said he could "not wait in Cambodia doing nothing".

"It is urgent that I draw international attention to this matter," he said, adding that a "flagrant violation of the constitution" had occurred.

"The international community must be informed, Cambodia survives by the grace of donors."

Rainsy said he hoped to meet officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris where his party "is establishing contacts", before going to Brussels to meet European Commission and parliament officials and then London and Washington.

"The situation can change very quickly. I think that the Cambodian authorities will backtrack once their contradictions come to light," said Rainsy, who has fled Cambodia repeatedly in the past fearing persecution.

The Cambodian parliament's lifting of immunity of the three lawmakers was sharply criticised by the United States, where Rainsy enjoys powerful support.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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