Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Court delays ruling in Sam Rainsy defamation case

Court delays ruling in Sam Rainsy defamation case

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Social media star Thy Sovantha, seen speaking outside the Phnom Penh court, won a defamation case against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy last year. Hong Menea

Court delays ruling in Sam Rainsy defamation case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday delayed its ruling in the Sam Rainsy defamation case in which the newly nominated Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) acting president was ordered to pay Prime Minister Hun Sen four billion riel (around $1 million) in compensation.

The case centred on accusations Rainsy made in France while meeting supporters of the Supreme Court-dissolved CNRP. He alleged that Prime Minister Hun Sen had given social media celebrity Thy Sovantha a $1 million bribe using money gained through corruption to attack the CNRP.

Sovantha was a former CNRP supporter who later joined the ruling party Cambodian People’s Party before commune elections last year.

Neither party was present in court, but the Supreme Court judges decided to proceed with the hearing and ruled that as it was only a misdemeanour charge, the absence of the accused would not affect the trial procedure. The hearing then lasted less than 10 minutes.

During the meeting in France in January last year, Rainsy claimed: “Hun Sen bribes Thy Sovantha $1 million . . . He bribed her to do bad things, to attack and cause trouble for the CNRP . . . to hold protests.

The accusation stemmed from messages allegedly leaked from Sovantha’s Facebook account between her and Hun Sen in November last year. The messages purportedly dealt with undermining the CNRP, with the prime minister calling Sovantha “grandchild” and offering her $1 million.

Thy Sovantha claimed her page was hacked and the messages fabricated.

In December last year, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Rainsy guilty of defamation and ordered him to pay Hun Sen four billion riel, with a further fine of 10 million riel (around $2,400).

Prosecutor Uk Kimsith requested the Supreme Court judges to uphold the decision of the lower court.

“The prosecutor sees that the lawyer for the accused received an invitation letter but did not submit documents [outlining an] argument."

“The fact that Sam Rainsy accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of bribing Thy Sovantha with $1 million using money from corruption is defamation according to Article 305 [of the Criminal Code]."

“Therefore, I would like the judges to uphold the lower court’s decision and regard it as correct,” Kimsith said.

Presiding Judge Kim Sathavy delayed handing down a verdict in the case until December 19.

Rainsy’s defence lawyer Sam Sokong could not be reached for comment.

MOST VIEWED

  • Woman detained for murder of hairdresser over unpaid $1K debt

    A woman has been held in connection with the murder of a 40-year-old widow. The victim’s daughter claims the motive was the suspect’s unpaid four million riel ($1,000) debt to her mother. The 17-year-old girl, Pich Sievmey, said her mother, Koem Yaneang, a hairdresser

  • ‘Life goes on’ if Cambodia loses Everything But Arms

    Cambodia's business sector is exploring ways to mitigate any fallout from a possible loss of access to the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement as talks continue before the 28-member bloc makes a final decision. The EU monitoring process is set to conclude in

  • Nesat beach: A magnet drawing tourists to the Kingdom’s coastline

    A white sandy beach lined by countless coconut trees awaits travellers off Cambodia’s southwest coast in Koh Kong province’s Srae Ambel district, about 170km from Phnom Penh. Over the past few years Nesat beach – a name inspired by a nearby fishing village – has

  • Woman confesses to murder, dismemberment over debt

    The daughter of a woman who was killed and dismembered in Phnom Penh earlier this month requested the authorities on Wednesday to impose the death penalty on the woman who killed her mother, after listening to the killer confess and describe her gruesome actions without