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Supreme Court stands by Rainsy ‘defamation’

Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks to the media during a press conference in 2014 in Phnom Penh.
Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks to the media during a press conference in 2014 in Phnom Penh. Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP

Supreme Court stands by Rainsy ‘defamation’

The Supreme Court yesterday upheld a defamation conviction against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy filed by National Assembly President Heng Samrin.

The case stems from a video Rainsy posted on Facebook in November of 2015 depicting the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk along with a text message accusing the Samrin-led post-Khmer Rouge government of trying Sihanouk in absentia for treason and sentencing him to death in a show trial in 1979.

Presiding Judge Khem Pun yesterday said the court was in agreement with the decisions handed out by the two lower courts, which included 150 million riel (about $37,200) in compensation to be paid to Samrin, as well as a separate 10 million riel fine to the state.

“The Appeal Court decision is correct and according to legal procedures,” Pun said.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court decision was handed down on July 28, 2016, which was then upheld by the Appeal Court on November 1, 2016, according to Rainsy’s defence lawyer, Sam Sokong.

Sokong said Rainsy’s team of lawyers boycotted the hearing because the court refused to postpone the proceedings, as requested by the group last week.

“Our group of lawyers thinks that verdict was not correct. It does not provide justice to our client,” Sokong said.

Samrin’s lawyer, Ky Tech, could not be reached yesterday.

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