The Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) on Thursday issued a press release confirming that Heang Rithy, the former vice-president of the Beehive Social Democratic Party, is not a lawyer registered with it.
The clarification was made after a controversial interview between Rithy and Radio Free Asia (RFA) concerning former opposition party president Kem Sokha on Tuesday.
The press release said that during the interview, RFA reporter Tin Zakariya wrongly used the term “legal team” when addressing Rithy.
“The wrong use of [Rithy’s] function and title in the interview is a violation of the lawyer charters and moral codes and the internal regulations of the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia. BAKC will take action if [Rithy] is found to have claimed he was a lawyer,” the press release said.
Rithy denied this on his Facebook page on Thursday.
“I would like to inform Suon Visal, president of the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia, that I am not a registered lawyer with BAKC and I am not ignorant enough to use the name of BAKC, as [I know] it is illegitimate.
“It was Tin Zakariya’s mistake. He used the wrong title to refer to me. In my own words, I never called myself a lawyer or a BAKC member,” he said.
BAKC president Soun Visal said on Thursday that Cambodian law prohibits anyone who is not a lawyer from claiming to be so, as it affects BAKC’s reputation.