Self-exiled CNRP president Sam Rainsy yesterday said he would ask the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to allow him to testify via video conference in a defamation case brought by Prime Minister Hun Sen, an idea quickly dismissed by a court official.
Rainsy has been summonsed to appear before court on Friday for “slandering” the government, and by extension Hun Sen, after he used social media last month to call murdered political activist Kem Ley’s death a case of “state-backed terrorism”.
Taking to Facebook again, Rainsy yesterday said he would like to use videoconferencing to give the “reasons” for his claims, likening his situation to certain witnesses at the Khmer Rouge tribunal who have been allowed to do the same.
“Even a ‘suspect’ – who must be considered innocent as long as he is not declared a ‘culprit’ yet – must be heard in any possible and legitimate way,” Rainsy said, via email. “I am telling my lawyer now and will expose the clues and evidence when facing the court.”
However, court spokesman Ly Sophanna said Rainsy’s request was not viable because he was a suspect, not a witness, and that Rainsy would have to provide evidence in person or through his lawyer.
Rainsy’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, said his client was only a suspect, and not charged yet, so in this investigatory phase, the court could legally allow videoconferencing.