The man suing outspoken League Democracy Party leader Khem Veasna for indirectly insulting him through public comments he made about the Cambodian people in general has been called for questioning at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, though a prominent legal expert questioned the basis for the suit.
According to a summons, Deputy Prosecutor Sin Virak called 55-year-old Soch Soeung to court on Friday to defend his “public insult” lawsuit against the firebrand Veasna over a February video on Facebook in which the former lawmaker expresses contempt for his own people and proposes starting a new society.
Soeung, the former director of the Phkar Preuk newspaper, filed his complaint last week, accusing Veasna of insulting him in the video.
“Khem Veasna insulted the Khmer people as a whole, and that includes me since I am a Khmer too. He called the Khmer cheap and [said they are] like dogs,” the complaint says.
However, legal expert Sok Sam Oeun said that Veasna’s comments did not appear to violate any laws. He noted in particular that laws against “public insult” only apply when an individual is targeted, and said it would also be difficult to argue Veasna had broken laws against discrimination given he is himself Khmer.
“The charge of insult applies only to an individual, we cannot use the insult for a group,” Sam Ouen said.
“If they have evidence that he is not Khmer and he insulted Khmers, then he can be charge for discrimination. But if he’s born from a Khmer father or a Khmer mother, then it’s just an opinion.”
LDP Secretary-General Chen Thun said that Veasna had not received any summons of his own but rejected the accusations.