Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Defendant says he'll skip incitement trial

Defendant says he'll skip incitement trial

Defendant says he'll skip incitement trial

KCF president says he will not attend hearing related to comments about Angkor Wat lights.

THE head of the Khmer Civilisation Foundation said Sunday that he would not appear in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on July 14, the day he has been asked to answer to false information and incitement charges stemming from comments he made about a light installation project at Angkor Wat temple.

In a telephone interview Sunday, Moeung Sonn, who fled to France shortly after charges were filed against him last month, said the court should have conducted a more thorough investigation before scheduling the next week's hearing. He also said he was concerned that the court would not permit him to testify even if he appeared.

"The trial against me on criminal charges seems unjust," Moeung Sonn said, "and the court must allow me to testify and give evidence to prove that I am innocent."

Sam Sokong, a lawyer for the Cambodian Defenders Project, said he took over the case last Thursday, six days after Phnom Penh Municipal Court Prosecutor Sok Roeun issued the official summons detailing the charges against Moeung Sonn.

The charges stem from a radio interview in which Moeung Sonn said that heat generated from lights that had been installed in Angkor Wat temple would seriously damage the landmark tourist attraction.

He also reportedly accused the government of drilling holes into the temple walls as part of the installation project, though on Sunday he denied having ever said this to a radio reporter. Both the government and the Apsara Authority, the body charged with managing the temple complex, have flatly denied drilling holes as part of the light installation project.

Lawyer to make appearance
Moeung Sonn's attorney, Sam Sokong, said he would appear before the court on July 14, adding that he would ask for the court to conduct a thorough investigation into the charges against his client.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An told parliamentarians in June that Moeung Sonn had lied in interviews to confuse the public.

Government lawyer Pal Chan Dara said Monday that the government would not drop the charges against Moeung Sonn.

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