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Sam Rainsy appeals defamation sentence

Sam Rainsy appeals defamation sentence

Sam Rainsy’s lawyer yesterday asked the Appeal Court to overturn a defamation and disinformation conviction against the opposition leader for his allegation that Foreign Minister Hor Namhong had run a Khmer Rouge prison.

No decision was reached by Presiding Judge Seng Neang, but Hor Namhong’s lawyer, Kar Savuth, told the court he hoped “100 per cent” the two-year jail term imposed on Rainsy in April this year for alleging his client ran the Boeung Trabek prison would be upheld.

“The penal procedure code states clearly that whoever files the complaint must be present at the hearing, and Sam Rainsy was not present,” Kar Savuth said.

“If the culprit [Rainsy] was not present, the opposition’s complaint must perish uselessly and the court must keep the old verdict.

“Therefore, I believe the court dares not to change the old verdict.”

Rainsy was convicted of making the allegations, which he has repeated in his autobiography, Rooted in Stone, during a memorial at the Choueng Ek Killing Fields in 2008.

He was fined US$2,000 in addition to his jail sentence.    

But Choung Choungy, the attorney representing the SRP leader, who lives in France, told the court that Rainsy had never mentioned  any specific names when he made the allegations in 2008, accusing a government off-icial of having run a prison for the Khmer Rouge.

“Excellency Hor Namhong and Excellency Sam Rainsy are public individuals who cannot avoid criticism. If he [Namhong] wants to avoid criticism, he does not need to hold a public position,” Choung Choungy said.

Seng Neang said the court’s verdict would be announced on October 5.

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