A lawyer acting for outspoken politician Son Chhay has filed an appeal against the recent decision by the Court of Appeal in relation to defamation lawsuits over the June 5 commune council elections.

Chhay – vice-chairman of the Candlelight Party, the country’s second largest after the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) – lost the defamation case bought separately by the CPP and the National Election Committee (NEC), following his allegations that there were irregularities with last year’s elections.

In his interview with online media outlet The Cambodia Daily on June 7 last year, Chhay – formerly a senior lawmaker from the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) – suggested that ballot fraud and the purchasing of votes had taken place.

The January 3 appeal by defence lawyer Choung Chou Ngy seeks an overturn of the decision to uphold the guilty verdict and to increase the fines and damages that are to be paid to the plaintiffs.

The court ruled that Chhay pay 10 million riel ($2,500) in fine to the state and four billion riel in damages to the CPP. In the NEC’s case, he was now ordered to pay a fine of 10 million riel to the state.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Uong Vuthea recently issued a temporary confiscation order on two properties belonging to Chhay, after he claimed that he would not pay the fines and damages.