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Candlelight's Son Chhay to answer defamation suit over commune elections

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Candlelight Party vice-president Son Chhay leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on July 12, 2022. Heng Chivoan

Candlelight's Son Chhay to answer defamation suit over commune elections

Son Chhay, vice-president of the Candlelight Party, said he would appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning over defamation lawsuits filed by the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and the National Election Committee (NEC).

Both the CPP and NEC alleged that Chhay made false and defamatory statements in an interview with the online media outlet Cambodia Daily concerning the June 5 commune council elections.

"I will respond and answer the court's questions and I have no worries because I did not do anything wrong as alleged by the CPP and NEC. They ask, we answer. It’s okay. These will not be difficult questions to answer," he said on September 1.

Municipal court spokesman Plang Sophal confirmed that Chhay has been summonsed for questioning on September 29.

The CPP sued Chhay demanding a public apology and a compensation of more than $1 million for his public statements suggesting that the ruling party had somehow rigged or otherwise tampered with or cheated in the last elections.

NEC also lodged its own lawsuit against Chhay, demanding a public apology. Defence lawyer Choung Chou Ngy said he was ready to defend Chhay if need be.

"The lawsuit against Son Chhay undermines the freedom of expression for politicians and all public figures," said Ngy.

He said the case would discourage other politicians from criticising election results or commenting on any other aspect of the 2023 national election.


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