OPPOSITION leader Sam Rainsy flew to France Tuesday in advance of an October 8 appeal court hearing during which he will ask judges to overturn a defamation and disinformation verdict handed down early this year.
The Tribunal Correctionnel in Paris on January 27 ordered the president of the Sam Rainsy Party to pay a symbolic 1 euro (US$1.43) fine to Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong, who filed his lawsuit following the May 2008 publication of Sam Rainsy’s autobiography, Rooted in Stone.
Hor Namhong said the book accused him of heading the Boeung Trabek “re-education camp”, where diplomats and government officials from the Lon Nol and Norodom Sihanouk regimes were incarcerated by the Khmer Rouge. He asked for damages of 100,000 euros.
During a press conference held Tuesday before he left the country, Sam Rainsy acknowledged having levelled the Boeung Trabek accusation in interviews, but said it was less direct in the book.
“I had not referred to Mr Hor Namhong by name,” he said. “I just said some leaders after the Khmer Rouge, but Hor Namhong got angry.”
He said he expected to have the verdict overturned for that reason, adding that the appeal court was unlikely to take into account the verbal accusations.
He added that only three lines in his 302-page book had anything to do with Boeung Trabek.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said he did not know whether Hor Namhong would also appear for the October 8 hearing.