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Court sets trial date for Ho Vann

HO Vann, a lawmaker from the Sam Rainsy Party, has been summoned to appear in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on September 9 in connection with a defamation lawsuit filed against him by 22 officers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).

The summons was issued Wednesday by Municipal Court Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun.

Ho Vann was sued earlier this year by the RCAF officials after he made comments to a local newspaper about the officers' academic degrees that were awarded by a Vietnamese military institute.

Although Ho Vann is currently overseas, the citation states that even if he is not present on the trial date, he will be charged in absentia for defamation.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said Monday that regardless of whether Ho Vann appears in court, a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion. "This is a political case that the ruling party arranged to threaten the opposition," Yim Sovann said. "We expect the court to follow the order of the ruling party."

Municipal prosecutor Sok Roeun could not be reached for comment. Municipal judge Sin Visal contested this characterisation of the court, however, saying: "No one orders me."

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