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Former S-21 prisoner Chum Mey enters Phnom Penh’s municipal court yesterday. Vireak Mai
Former S-21 prisoner Chum Mey enters Phnom Penh’s municipal court yesterday. Vireak Mai

Sokha distorted reality: Mey

Khmer Rouge prison survivor Chum Mey appeared in court yesterday to defend a defamation suit filed by him and three other Tuol Sleng victims against acting opposition head Kem Sokha.

The men allege Sokha, who has been summonsed to court for questioning on Thursday, made claims that the Vietnamese fabricated Khmer Rouge crimes committed at the prison after invading in 1979.

The alleged recordings were first released by the government last month.

“[The court] questioned me as to why I sued Mr Kem Sokha. I told the court because [he] had distorted reality. He said Tuol Sleng was an artificial prison staged by Vietnam,” Mey told the Post.

His lawyer, Kuoy Thunna, said Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Meas Chanpisith grilled his client for more than one hour yesterday.

“Chum Mey told the court that he got the recording from Beehive Radio. Whether the recording is real or not will depend on the court’s evaluation,” Thunna said.

He added that Mey requested the court to play recordings of Sokha’s voice to determine whether the offending recordings were edited.

The four plaintiffs are requesting $1,000 in compensation from Sokha to pay for a Buddhist ceremony for those who died at the torture prison.

Chanpisith declined to comment yesterday.

Cambodia National Rescue Party spokesman Yim Sovann said Mey had the right to file a lawsuit, but the CNRP was not paying attention to the case.

“It is Chum Mey’s business but there are more important issues than this: immigrant issues in Cambodia, the destruction of the forest, people’s land grabbing,” he said.

Sovann told the Post on Sunday that neither Sokha nor a CNRP representative would attend court on Thursday, leading some observers to point out that the CNRP leader could ultimately be forced to appear if he did not request a delay.

Sokha confirmed last week he had not appointed a lawyer, claiming he was solely focused on the election campaign – which kicks off on Thursday.

Suon Chanthy, a Beehive staffer, said she was not sure whether the station had broadcast the recording as she could not remember hearing it.

Mey’s fellow plaintiffs could not be reached.

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