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Exile tries to clear his name

Exile tries to clear his name

111012_06
Moeung Sonn, president of the Khmer Civilisation Foundation, speaks to the Post in Aranyaprathyet, Thailand, in March.

I want to return home safely ... I want the highest court to reopen the case

The former president of the Khmer Civilisation Foundation – who has been living in exile since he was sentenced to prison for comments he made about a lighting installation at Angkor Wat – has asked the Supreme Court to begin reconsidering a decision that has left him languishing in a Thai border town.

“I want to return home safely,” Moeung Sonn told the Post yesterday.

“I want the highest court to reopen the case and wipe away the allegations against me by confirming that I did not cause social unrest.”

He also asked the court for a clear explanation of the charge of incitement against him, and warned that such charges made it easy for Cambodians to be imprisoned even if they had done nothing wrong.
Moeung Sonn said he had sent a letter to the Supreme Court on Monday urging it to consider his case with wisdom and impartiality.

The letter noted that he had been living abroad for more than two years after a court sentenced him to prison for comments which he had intended to be helpful.

These comments, made in May 2009, suggested that the plan to install lights at the 11th century temple to encourage nighttime visits could damage the country’s main tourist attraction.

Moeung Sonn was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 15 million riel (US$3,705) for defamation by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in July of that year. The case was retried in November of that year and the same verdict was reached.

Last May, the Court of Appeal Court upheld the lower court’s verdict of a two-year prison sentence, but reduced the fine to four million riel and changed the charge from disinformation to incitement.

Moeung Sonn’s defence lawyer, Sok Sam Oeun, said at the time that the last-second change in charge had taken him by surprise. “If they want to change the charge, I have the right to know in advance,” he said.

Supreme Court Vice President Chun Sun Leng said yesterday that he did not know whether or not Moeung Sonn’s case was close to being heard by the judges.

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