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Defamation fight to come before the bar

Defamation fight to come before the bar

CHILD protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) is set to file a complaint with the Cambodian Bar Association regarding a lawyer who has accused the group of entrapping foreigners suspected of committing sex crimes.

Samleang Seila, APLE’s country director, confirmed the complaint would be lodged today, following a defamation lawsuit filed against the lawyer at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday.

“We will ask the bar association to consider a fine, a professional suspension, or to cancel his lawyer’s license,” he said.

Defence lawyer Dun Vibol, who often represents foreigners in child sex cases, told the Post on May 10 that he believed entrapment had been employed by APLE “in most sex cases related to foreigners”, reiterating claims he has previously made in court.

Sok Sam Oeun, director of the legal aid organisation Cambodia Defenders Project, during a conference on May 7 also accused local NGOs and police of engaging in entrapment, although he declined to name which NGOs were complicit in the practice.

In its lawsuit, APLE accused Dun Vibol of lacking evidence to back up his accusations and deliberately slandering APLE to sway the group’s foreign donors, its partnerships with other NGOs and international law enforcement agencies. It states that Dun Vibol’s comments “damaged the reputation, dignity and determination of staff” at APLE.

The suit seeks to charge Dun Vibol under Article 63 of the 1992 UNTAC Criminal Code, which defines defamation as “any allegation or imputation” that harms the honour or reputation of an individual.

“We will ask for 20 million riels [around US$4,820] compensation, and a fine of 10 million riels [$2,440],” Samleang Seila added.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court officials could not be reached for comment Monday. But Dun Vibol said the complaints were “unacceptable”, and pledged to file a countersuit if the courts dropped the defamation charge.

“I would prepare a countersuit defamation charge against APLE if I find out that it has deliberately destroyed my reputation,” he said. “I will find evidence to defend myself by revealing APLE reports of its investigations against suspects.”

He again repeated claims that APLE allowed child sex crimes to occur despite having prior knowledge of them, in order to catch foreign men red-handed.

“They file records to police and court prosecutors two or three days in advance, before nabbing the foreigners,” he said, adding that APLE should have made “a thorough consideration” before bringing the case to court.

Separate case
APLE is also awaiting a decision after a separate complaint lodged with the Bar Association in June last year, when it accused Dun Vibol of bribing officials to change the age of a victim in a child sex case from 16 at the time of the abuse to 19, before submitting the forged documents with the falsified age to the courts.

Dun Vibol has previously denied that he submitted forged documents to the courts, but admitted paying an official $50 in “tea money” to expedite the process of confirming the age of the victim.

Bar association President Chiv Songhak could not be reached for comment Monday, but said last Wednesday that the investigation into the complaint would soon be complete.

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