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Sovantha ups damage claim against Rainsy

Social media starlet Thy Sovantha, who is currently suing opposition leader Sam Rainsy, speaks to the press outside the Phnom Penh court yesterday.
Social media starlet Thy Sovantha, who is currently suing opposition leader Sam Rainsy, speaks to the press outside the Phnom Penh court yesterday. Hong Menea

Sovantha ups damage claim against Rainsy

Social media personality Thy Sovantha yesterday upped her claim for damages in the defamation suit she’s bringing against Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy.

The former opposition supporter-turned-vocal CNRP critic said she now wants $500,000 from the exiled politician, up from the initial request of $250,000 made on January 14.

Her lawyer, Ly Chantola, said the claim was increased because fallout has continued online from the alleged defamatory remarks, while Rainsy has not backed down.

“We have been monitoring Facebook posts and videos about the words Sam Rainsy said, and it continues,” Chantola said.

The 21-year-old sued Rainsy for alleging she took a $1 million bribe from Prime Minister Hun Sen to attack the opposition.

The premier also filed a defamation action over the comments just a day after Sovantha, requesting $1 million in damages, a judgment he said would force Rainsy to sell CNRP headquarters to fulfil.

Speaking outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, Sovantha balked at questions about whether someone was directing her actions. “If he did not defame me, I could not file a lawsuit, so we don’t need to create rumours about who is behind my lawsuit,” she said.

Rainsy’s accusation stems from text messages leaked online purporting to show Sovantha corresponding with Hun Sen. Another set of leaked messages suggested the premier’s son Hun Manith, head of military intelligence, also colluded with the social media personality.

Sovantha reiterated her denial that the leaks were genuine. “I’ve already explained that that case is not true,” she said, adding she had requested the Interior Ministry investigate the hacking of her Facebook account, on which the messages appeared.

Rainsy’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, said it was too early to worry about compensation as the investigation was ongoing.

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