Phnom Penh (FN), Nov. 12 – Ministry of Justice’s Secretary of State and spokesman Kim Santepheap, on Monday, taunted Sam Rainsy, Leader of Cambodia National Rescue Movement, for lacking legal understanding and misunderstanding Cambodian Prime Minister’s Hun Sen statement addressing to garment workers in Takeo province recently.

Prime Minister’s speech is quoted as follows: “If not yet sentenced, there is no offenses to be pardoned. Hun Sen has no rights to request to His Majesty to grant an amnesty to an accused or when verdict has yet been released […] I want to send message that wait until the horse grows horns for it the happen.”

Sam Rainsy spoke in an interview with Radio Free Asia on November 10, accusing Prime Minister interfering with Cambodian judicial authority.

In response to Rainsy’s accusations, Secretary of State clarified that “According to the premier’s speech, he has no rights to violate judicial power as long as a criminal case is in process; likewise his special privilege provided by law is not also applicable.”

“Prime Minister’s stance has clearly reflects the spirit of Cambodia constitution and laws. Sam Rainsy is a convict, for he lacks legal understanding,” Santepheap added.

Article 27 of the Constitution stipulated that: “The King holds the right of commuting court’s sentence and the power of pardon.” Article 77 of Cambodia’s Prison Law stated that “If necessary, Head of the Royal Government has the privilege to request to His Majesty to grant amnesty to convict any time.”

According to the Secretary of State, the word “convict” is defined as a person who has been sentenced.

On Sunday, Cambodia’s Ministry of Justice also clarified to the public that the accused Kem Sokha was allegedly charged with conspiring with foreigners, a violation of Cambodian criminal code, which is subjected to 15-30 years imprisonment.

Kem Sokha was temporarily detained on 5 September 2017, and was released on bail and put under judicial control on 9 September 2018. According to the criminal procedure of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the pre-trial detention ordered by investigating judge on criminal offense can last up to six months and can be extended to another six months twice.

The fact that Sam Rainsy stated the pre-trail detention will end no later than 3 March 2019 is a claim lacks of legal understanding and court procedures. Sam Rainsy should know that Kem Sokha was put under judicial control and that it is not under the framework of pre-trial detention which lasts up to 18 months maximum.

It can be understood Kem Sokha has yet been sentenced, and that Prime Minister only has the privilege to request for amnesty for "convict", not the "accused".