Prime Minister Hun Sen’s lawyer yesterday filed a lawsuit against former Deputy Prime Minister Lu Lay Sreng for defamation over comments made during a private phone conversation leaked to social media.
In the conversation with Ky Lum Ang, who like Lay Sreng is a former Funcinpec official, he accused the royalist party of accepting payments in exchange for the seats they will receive if the opposition party is dissolved.
“Lu Lay Sreng said [Hun Sen] gave Funcinpec members $20,000 each and together almost $1 million . . . [Lay Sreng] did not have clear evidence, but he dared to defame Samdech Prime Minister,” the premier’s lawyer, Ky Tech, said outside the Municipal Court.
Lay Sreng also called King Norodom Sihamoni “a castrated chicken” during the phone call, which was leaked on Facebook by anti-opposition figure Seiha. He fled to Thailand on Monday after Hun Sen and Funcinpec announced their intention to sue.
Tech said that he was requesting 500 million riel, or about $123,805, in compensation “for damaging the honour and reputation” of Hun Sen.“The evidence is the leaked audio,” he said.
Legal commentators have noted that charges of defamation only apply to public comments, and insulting the King is not explicitly prohibited by law.
In a rare move, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana filed a motion to the court, asking it to take “urgent action” and mete out a “strict” punishment over the “serious insult to our majesty the King”.
Y Rin, Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson, said the complaint was at the prosecutor’s office.
Representatives from Funcinpec could not be reached for comment yesterday.