Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rainsy sentenced yet again for defamation

Rainsy sentenced yet again for defamation

Former CNRP president Sam Rainsy, seen here speaking via Skype feed yesterday at a memorial for victims of a 1997 grenade attack on an opposition rally, was convicted on the same day by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court of defamation and incitement for suggesting the government killed political analyst Kem Ley.
Former CNRP president Sam Rainsy, seen here speaking via Skype feed yesterday at a memorial for victims of a 1997 grenade attack on an opposition rally, was convicted on the same day by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court of defamation and incitement for suggesting the government killed political analyst Kem Ley. Hong Menea

Rainsy sentenced yet again for defamation

Former CNRP president Sam Rainsy was convicted by the Phnom Penh court for the fourth time in the last year and sentenced to 20 months in prison for alleging that political commentator Kem Ley’s slaying last year was an act of “state sponsored terrorism” – a suspicion held by many Cambodians.

Rainsy was convicted yesterday for “incitement” and “defamation through the media” by trial judge Y Thavrak, and in addition to the prison sentence has to pay a 10 million riel (about $2,500) penalty and a symbolic punitive fine of 100 riel to Prime Minster Hun Sen.

Following Ley’s death last July, Rainsy took to his Facebook page calling the alleged assassination a state-sponsored act. Forty-four-year-old former soldier Oeut Ang was convicted last week for Ley’s killing, though the ruling failed to diminish suspicions that others were involved.

Yesterday’s conviction comes months after Sam Rainsy Party Senator Thak Lany expressed similar views about the government’s involvement in the killing, resulting in an 18-month sentence and similar fines. Lany fled to Sweden before being prosecuted, however.

Rainsy, who is exiled in France, yesterday dismissed the conviction handed down by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, saying his statements would hold up in the court of public opinion. “In terms of public opinion, the government’s use of such cases is self-defeating, as they simply underline what millions of Cambodians already suspect about the death of Kem Ley, and what they already know about their court system,” he said, via email.

Sam Sokong, Rainsy’s lawyer, was also dissatisfied at what he characterised as the flimsy evidence – an interview with Radio Free Asia in which Rainsy aired similar views that was used to try his client. The court did not produce the original offending Facebook post, saying it had been deleted.

“The verdict is unacceptable because His Excellency [Rainsy] only used his freedom of speech in a democratic country,” he said. “With the incitement charge, there has been no damage or harm from what he said.”

Despite the victory, Ky Tech, the premier’s lawyer, said the punishment wasn’t reflective of the damage Rainsy had inflicted on the “highest institution of the country”. “This was to ignite the anger of the public and to believe that the killing of Kem Ley was done by the government, or the state,” he said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all