Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Former deputy PM Lu Lay Sreng convicted of 'defamation'



Former deputy PM Lu Lay Sreng convicted of 'defamation'

Lu Lay Sreng during an interview with Radio Free Asia. RFA
Lu Lay Sreng during an interview with Radio Free Asia. RFA

Former deputy PM Lu Lay Sreng convicted of 'defamation'

Former Funcinpec official and ex-Deputy Prime Minister Lu Lay Sreng was found guilty in absentia of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen today for comments made in a private phone conversation that was secretly recorded and disseminated without his knowledge.

In the leaked phone call, Lay Sreng alleged that Prime Minister Hun Sen had paid the royalist Funcinpec party to take vacant National Assembly seats following the widely decried dissolution of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party. Despite defamation being defined as public speech, and the fact that Lay Sreng's remarks were private and surreptitiously recorded, the 77-year-old was ordered to pay 500 million riel (about $125,000) to Hun Sen.

Lay Sreng, who fled to the US in October, also called King Norodom Sihamoni a “castrated chicken” during the call for remaining silent on the political crackdown.

The conversation was leaked online by the anonymous pro-government social media personality “Seiha”, who has been behind numerous other high-profile leaks seen as damaging to ruling party opponents.

“What Lu Lay Sreng said was done with ill intentions to harm the reputation of Samdech Hun Sen,” Hun Sen’s lawyer, Ky Tech, said at court yesterday. “The conversation was private, but when it was posted to Facebook by Seiha, the public could hear it."

Judge Y Thavrak delivered the verdict, ordering Lay Sreng to pay not only the 500 million riel in damages, but also an additional court fine of 8 million riel (about $2,000).

Chak Sopheap, director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said the Cambodian Criminal Code is “unequivocal” in defining defamation as comments “intended for the public”.

“The use of defamation charges is a tool commonly used throughout the world to silence critics, be they journalists, political opponents, analysts or human rights defenders. Sadly, Cambodia is no exception,” she added.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said the verdict “will set yet another chilling precedent that threatens free speech across the country”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma