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Senior Cambodian Opposition Official Summoned to Court

Kem Sokha, vice president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and first vice president of Cambodia's National Assembly (left) and Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister (right).

Kem Sokha, the vice president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, has been summoned to appear in Phnom Penh Municipal Court a week after being threatened with a lawsuit by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Defense attorney Chen Chan told VOA the lawmaker likely will be questioned on April 8 about violent demonstrations held in Phnom Penh last July, for which 11 opposition supporters are being tried for insurrection and other charges.

"It’s an old story from last year that involved the instigation to commit crimes or to provoke instability in the society," Chan said.

It is not yet clear if Kem Sokha is being summoned as a witness or a potential suspect in the case.

Rights groups say the charges are greatly exaggerated and should be dropped against the suspects, including Meach Sovannara, a Rescue Party supporter who also is a U.S. citizen.

Chen Chan said Kem Sokha should have been summoned to court via the Ministry of Justice and the National Assembly, not just court authorities, because as a lawmaker he enjoys parliamentary immunity.

Prime Minister Hun Sen in recent days has expressed anger at Kem Sokha, who recently visited the U.S. and said the opposition one day would like to lead Cambodia.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.