After appearing to face a defamation suit filed by Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan yesterday, prominent political analyst Ou Virak called the evidence against him “useless” and said he asked the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to throw the case out.
Virak is being sued for $100,000 for allegedly suggesting in an interview with Radio Free Asia last month that the CPP orchestrated a scandal involving CNRP acting president Kem Sokha and an alleged mistress, salon worker Khom Chandaraty.
Speaking to journalists after the closed session, Virak said that the evidence presented against him by deputy prosecutor Seang Sok – an audio recording and printed piece of paper – was “unacceptable”, adding that the prosecutor did not clarify how the evidence was obtained.
“He declined to explain where he got the audio from,” Virak said. “So I said we should not listen to that audio because it was useless.”
He said it was procedure for the prosecutor to explain the source of his evidence, and that he refused to answer questions unless its origins were verified.
He added that the ruling party had misunderstood his comments and that he did not link the developments in the Sokha scandal to the government.
“If we look at freedom of speech, the complaint is not applicable in that context,” he said. “So, I request that the prosecutor drop the complaint.”
However, Sok refused Virak’s request to drop the case. Court spokesman Ly Sophanna confirmed yesterday that the court was going to proceed with the case.
Eysan – who appeared before court last Friday – said Virak’s claim that there was no evidence against him was Virak’s opinion, adding that he had already submitted relevant evidence to the prosecutor.
“I have submitted evidence to the court,” he said. “Whether the court takes action or not, I am the victim. I depend on the court to find justice for us [the CPP].”
He added that if the party had the evidence to prove damage to its reputation, beyond the scope of freedom of expression, they would sue the alleged violator no matter who they were – ordinary citizen or political analyst.
Grassroots political activist Kem Ley, who was present at court to observe the proceedings, said the case was a “joke” and only served as a warning to others to curb their freedom of expression.
“I think that it should not have gone to court,” he said. “If someone said something wrong or insulting, then let society evaluate them.”