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SRP attorney sceptical of Bar Association's neutrality

SRP attorney sceptical of Bar Association's neutrality

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090608_03.jpg

Mu Sochua's lawyer, Kong Sam Onn, says association panel is under govt pressure and can't make independent decision.

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

Lawyer Kong Sam Onn speaks to reporters outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after a recent defamation suit hearing.

THE lawyer representing Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua in her defamation suit against Prime Minister Hun Sen said Sunday he had no confidence that a Bar Association panel investigating a complaint against him could reach an independent decision.

Kong Sam Onn appeared for questioning before the panel on Friday. The meeting went ahead as scheduled, despite the fact that only three panelists showed.

Hem Voun had been removed last week after Kong Sam Onn noted that he worked for the same law firm as Hun Sen's lawyer, and Lean Chenda failed to appear on Friday citing health reasons.

Two previous attempts to question Kong Sam Onn regarding claims that he violated the Bar Association's ethics code were unsuccessful. The lawyer could be suspended or disbarred if found guilty of breaking association rules.

Panelist Hem Socheat said Sunday that there was no required number of panelists, adding that the questioning went ahead on Friday because panelists did not want to re-schedule for a fourth time.

Kong Sam Onn said the panelists accused him of defaming Hun Sen, citing an April 23 press conference held before his client filed a defamation lawsuit against the prime minister.

"They accused me of insulting Samdech Hun Sen and calling him a coward," he said.

"I said the word ‘coward', but I was not referring to any individual," he added.

"I only said that the speech was cowardly if the speech referred to Mu Sochua."

That suit stems from an April 4 speech by Hun Sen in which, Mu Sochua said, he made derogatory comments about her.

Hun Sen quickly filed a countersuit, saying that Mu Sochua had defamed him by asserting that his comments referred to her.

Kong Sam Onn said he believed Bar Association President Chiv Songhak had been pressured by the government to rule against him. Chiv Songhak declined to comment on Sunday.

Panelist Put Theavy said Ky Tech, Hun Sen's lawyer, would appear before the panel on Tuesday. 

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