The trial of opposition Senator Thak Lany concluded yesterday with her defence failing to produce a video it had said would disprove allegations she publicly accused Prime Minister Hun Sen of involvement in the murder of political analyst Kem Ley.
Lany faces defamation and incitement charges over the alleged comments, featured in a video clip of the Sam Rainsy Party senator addressing supporters in Ratanakkiri province in the wake of Ley’s shooting at a Phnom Penh petrol station on July 10, which many believe was a political assassination.
The senator, whose whereabouts remain unknown, initially claimed her comments were taken out of context, while her lawyer, Sam Sokong, on the first day of the trial last week, vowed to produce another video of the remarks that would prove his client’s innocence.
But during yesterday’s hour-long hearing, the video failed to materialise, with lawyers instead arguing over the source of the video relied upon by the prosecution, whether Lany’s comments were made in a public or private forum, and the impact of the remarks.
Ky Tech, lawyer for the premier, argued Lany’s speech, made under a CNRP supporter’s house, was a public forum – as participation was not restricted and the senator was aided by a microphone – while also characterising her remarks as defamatory and dangerous.
“The public was getting angry over the killing of Kem Ley, they felt much sympathy for him. So what she did was to take the opportunity to ruin the dignity of the prime minister and cause chaos,” Tech said. Had the premier had no bodyguards, his life could have been in danger, Tech further claimed.
“If it wasn’t the premier [accused], that individual would already be in danger because of what [Lany] said.”
Responding, Sokong argued the meeting was a private gathering of a political party rather than a public forum.
He also questioned the credibility of the person who captured the video, alleging they were a spy, and at one point suggested Lany would not have been brave enough to make such comments about such a “powerful person”.
However, he presented no alternative footage. Reached after the hearing, Sokong claimed he still had the tape but had run out of time to show it, saying it could be used at subsequent hearings at higher courts.
A verdict is due on November 17.