Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Another defamation conviction upheld against Cambodian ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy

Another defamation conviction upheld against Cambodian ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy

Ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks about the political situation in Cambodia during a National Press Club forum in Australia in February. Photo supplied
Ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks about the political situation in Cambodia during a National Press Club forum in Australia in February. Photo supplied

Another defamation conviction upheld against Cambodian ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy

The Appeal Court on Tuesday upheld yet another conviction against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, this one for claiming Prime Minister Hun Sen bribed pro-government social media activist Thy Sovantha.

Rainsy made the accusation in France in January of last year, after messages allegedly between the premier and Sovantha, an opposition activist-turned-ruling party darling, were leaked to her Facebook page in November.

The messages dealt with undermining Rainsy’s now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, with the prime minister allegedly calling Sovantha “grandchild” and offering her $1 million to fund her activities.

Rainsy was found guilty of defamation in absentia in December, and ordered to pay $1 million to the prime minister.

Presiding Judge In Vannvibol said Rainsy’s post “affected the dignity and reputation of the prime minister locally and overseas”.

The case is one of at least eight currently hanging over the self-exiled political figure since a prior round of pardons in 2013. He has lived abroad to avoid imprisonment since 2015.

In an email, Rainsy derided the “Kangaroo Court” that he said ignored “irrefutable evidence”. Nevertheless, he pledged to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, for another “opportunity to expose Hun Sen’s wrongdoings”.

He called for the court to investigate the more than 400 leaked messages which he claimed contained personal details that prove their authenticity.

A similar but separate lawsuit has been filed by Sovantha, who has claimed the messages were fabricated and her Facebook page was hacked.

Meanwhile, Rainsy went on an offensive of his own, tweeting demands for Hun Sen to step down or be removed.

Rainsy said the premier could negotiate a “safe exit” or “be forced to step down” by the people and armed forces.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro