Former CNRP president Sam Rainsy was slapped with yet another conviction this morning after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court found him guilty of incitement and defamation for alleging last year that political commentator Kem Ley’s death was “state-backed terrorism”.
The conviction, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the grenade attack on a rally led by Rainsy, was handed down by judge Y Thavrak, who sentenced Rainsy to one year and eight months in prison along with a 10 million riel fine (about $2,500). Rainsy will also have to pay a symbolic punitive fine of 100 riel to Hun Sen.
“Sam Rainsy is convicted to 20 months and fined 10 million riel for defamation in public and incitement to cause social disorder,” said court spokesman Ly Sophanna, after the ruling.
Following Kem Ley’s death last year, Rainsy took to Facebook to call the killing a state sponsored act, leading to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s lawyer Ky Tech filing a court complaint on behalf of the premier.
Many believe Ley’s killing to be politically motivated, and the conviction this month of the ostensible shooter in the case has done little to quell Cambodians’ suspicions that he acted at the behest of others.
Similarly, Sam Rainsy Party Senator Thak Lany was convicted in November for also alleging that Hun Sen was behind the murder of the popular commentator and was handed an 18 month sentence, a $2,000 fine and a 100 riel symbolic compensation to the premier. The senator was convicted in absentia after being granted asylum in Sweden.