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Pagoda chief called in lawsuit

Pagoda chief called in lawsuit

The head monk at Samaki Rainsy pagoda – long known for hosting activists and land disputants – has asked the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to postpone a summons he received relating to a defamation case, with court officials giving no details of the complaint.

Thach Ha Sam Ang was expected to appear yesterday, but informed the court that he was busy because of the ongoing Pchum Ben festival and would be willing to appear at a later date.

He added that he was unaware of the defamation case, which purportedly dates back to February 2015. “I asked for an explanation about the case,” he said. “I have not defamed anyone and don’t know who the plaintiff is, so I do not know who I am going to face in court.”

Court spokesman Ly Sophanna would only say that deputy prosecutor Kuch Kimlong was working on the case against the monk. However, Kimlong yesterday denied summonsing any monk for a defamation case.

Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun said it was not uncommon to withhold the complainant’s identity during an investigation, adding that the court needed to be careful when summonsing monks because they could be prematurely defrocked even if later found to be innocent.

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