Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy today blasted as “political” a Cambodian Supreme Court decision rejecting his appeal of a conviction for inciting racial tensions with Vietnam.
Rainsy, who lives in exile in France, was sentenced in absentia to a two-year prison term in January 2010 for removing border marking posts between the two countries in a protest the previous year.
He has frequently spoken out against what he has described as Vietnamese encroachment on Cambodian territory.
In a separate case, Sam Rainsy received an additional ten-year term for publishing what the Cambodian government called a false map of the border.
Speaking to RFA, Rainsy called the top court’s ruling “purely a political decision” and declared that France would likely refuse a Cambodian government request to extradite him to serve his jail term in Cambodia.
Rights groups and Sam Rainsy’s own party have described the convictions as ploys to prevent the outspoken politician from contesting Cambodia’s next national election, which will be held in 2013.
He is widely viewed as the main rival to Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen, 59.
Expressing confidence in a favorable resolution of his case ahead of the election, Rainsy called for a “political solution” between his party and the government.
“There must be a political solution, as I have experienced cases like this many times before.”
“The government has used the courts to pressure me, but ultimately there will be a solution,” he said.
Reported and translated by Samean Yun for RFA’s Khmer service. Written in English by Richard Finney.