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Court calls on HRP leader for testimony

Court calls on HRP leader for testimony

HUMAN Rights Party president Kem Sokha has been summoned by Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning in a case that critics have branded frivolous.

Phnom Penh deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun said yesterday that charges have not been filed against the opposition politician, who used to head the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

“We have ordered him to appear at the court on September 6 at 2pm,” Sok Roeun said.

The case in question stems from complaints filed in 2006 by former CCHR staffers accusing Kem Sokha of defamation and the use of false documents in his response to the accusations.

Chhim Phalvorn, a former CCHR staff member and a complainant in the case, said he had evidence to present in court to prove Kem Sokha had misused funds and dismissed staff members without cause.

“I am pursuing my right as a victim to find justice in this case,” he said.

But Ou Virak, the current president of CCHR, said the dated complaint was just an excuse for the court to harass an opposition leader. He pointed to Monday’s disinformation conviction of an employee of local rights group Licadho in Takeo province as typical of the continued harassment faced by rights advocates.

“There’s no reason to pick up an old case just to put pressure on an opposition party,” Ou Virak said.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said the case was a waste of time in light of the judiciary’s other priorities.

Kem Sokha was one of several activists arrested and charged with defamation during a government crackdown in 2005; however, he was released from prison and pardoned by King Norodom Sihamoni in 2006. He could not be reached for comment, and was travelling in the United States as of last week.

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