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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rainsy gets guilty verdict

Rainsy gets guilty verdict

French court fines opposition leader just €1 for defamation

A FRENCH court Tuesday ordered Sam Rainsy and his publisher to pay a symbolic €1 fine to Foreign Minister Hor Namhong for defamatory and misleading comments made in the opposition leader's autobiography, which identified the minister as a high-ranking Khmer Rouge cadre.

In Rooted in Stone, published in May, Sam Rainsy accused Hor Namhong of heading the Boeung Trabek "re-education" camp, where diplomats and government officials from the Lon Nol and Sihanouk regimes were detained.

On Tuesday, Paris's Tribunal Correctionnel ordered Sam Rainsy's publisher Calmann-Levy to remove a passage in any reprinted copies of the book calling the foreign minister a "collaborator... suspected of causing the death of several people".

It also required that Sam Rainsy and his publisher post notices in two newspapers of their choice stating the court's ruling and pay €5,500 (US$7,272) in legal fees to the state.

Despite not coming to a resounding decision in his favour, Sin Bunthoeun, press spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said Hor Namhong was "happy to receive justice from the court and have his name cleared".

Foreign Ministry spokesman Kouy Koung added that Hor Namhong may now use the French court's ruling to pursue further legal action in Cambodia.

In April, he filed a lawsuit in Phnom Penh's Municipal Court following similar remarks made by Sam Rainsy in a speech at the Choeung Ek "killing fields".

In May, the Phnom Penh court summoned Sam Rainsy to appear, but Hor Namhong shelved the case, awaiting the verdict from the French court.

But Sam Rainsy remained unrepentant and denied the French court ruling would have any implications for the pending local trial.

"The legal basis would be very weak since this case isn't over," he told the Post Wednesday.

"This is just the beginning. I will lodge an appeal, and if I lose that, I will go to the Supreme Court, so I'm not even sure I will pay," he said.

"I don't have any regrets. I would not change a word."

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