Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US court drops case against government

US court drops case against government

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Hun Manet speaks to the media after returning from a trip to the United States in April last year. Pha Lina

US court drops case against government

A United States court has dropped a “torture” case against the Cambodian government brought by lawyers for the family of former Cambodia National Rescue Party official Meach Sovannara, one of several one-time opposition members imprisoned in Cambodia in cases widely believed politically motivated.

In an order dated May 11, Judge George Wu of the US District Court Central District of California, agreed with a submission by Sovannara’s lawyers to close the case without prejudice.

Morton Sklar, the attorney representing Sovannara’s US-based family, said his team moved to have the case dismissed so it could be refiled at a federal court in Washington, DC, that had jurisdiction over foreign governments.

The case was initially brought against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son Hun Manet last year and also named the Cambodian government as a defendant.

It alleged that the imprisonment of Sovannara for 20 years on “insurrection” charges over a 2014 anti-government rally that turned violent amounted to torture under international law.

The plaintiffs argued Manet was liable because of his senior military positions, including his role as deputy chief of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit.

They also moved to add as a party to the case opposition lawmaker Nhay Chamroeun, one of two parliamentarians attacked by Bodyguard Unit soldiers in 2015.

However, in April, Wu ruled that an attempt to serve Manet with legal papers while he was in California was ineffective, and thus he was not subject to the jurisdiction of the court.

Sklar, Sovannara’s lawyer, said the case would be submitted in Washington after the commune elections on June 4.

“The merits of Meach Sovannara’s and Nhay Chamroeun’s claims will now be left to the federal court for Washington, DC, to decide,” he said.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan, however, said he was not concerned.

“The Washington court has no jurisdiction over Cambodia,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM Hun Sen says dangers averted

    Delivering a campaign speech from his home via Facebook Live on Thursday, caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen said his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had carried the country through danger in its latest mandate. He was specifically referring to the threat of a “colour revolution”

  • Bumpy road for local ride apps

    Ride-hailing services seem to have grown into a dominant player in the capital’s transportation sector. Relatively unknown and little used in the Kingdom at the beginning of this year, services like PassApp, Grab and ExNet are now commonplace on Phnom Penh streets. However, the

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition