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Spotlight back on lighting case

Moeung Sonn, the embattled president of the Khmer Civilization Foundation, yesterday called on the UN special envoy to raise his case during a mission next month.

Sonn, 65, faces two years in prison on charges of incitement should he return to Cambodia from Thailand – where he has been living in self-imposed exile since the verdict was handed down in 2009. The conviction against Sonn, who was charged after saying a new lighting installation at Angkor Wat could damage the temples, have been widely decried by rights groups.

“I have done nothing wrong, but I’m forced to live exiled in Thailand, watching the situation from afar, and unable to help other Cambodians,” Sonn wrote in his letter to special rapporteur Surya Subedi. “I know that without a powerful intervention from an international institution, such as the United Nations, I will remain forced to live abroad,” reads the letter

Speaking with the Post from Thailand, Sonn said he was hopeful that with enough international pressure, he might be granted an amnesty.

“My issue is that the government violates my freedom of speech. I never criticised or opposed [the project] for power. I only contribute to helping society to sustain its national cultural treasures,” he said.

Sonn said he is also drafting a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who is president of the Apsara Authority and filed the initial suit against Sonn, asking for his understanding and urging the government to request a royal pardon on his behalf.

But government officials said yesterday there was little validity to the request.

“He never accepted his guilt. How can he live in a state of law? I am not the court, and the government is not the court. He must resolve his case with the court,” said Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan.

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