A handful of S-21 survivors and victims of the Khmer Rouge filed a defamation lawsuit against acting Cambodia National Rescue Party president Kem Sokha Friday, just as the Senate approved a law making it a crime to deny the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge.
Kouy Thunna, a lawyer for S-21 survivors Chum Mey and Norng Chan Phal, and fellow Khmer Rouge victims Chin Mat and Norng Chan Thorn, said yesterday that he had filed a lawsuit with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court arguing that remarks allegedly made by Sokha that S-21’s history had been fabricated by the invading Vietnamese amounted to libel.
“They are demanding a fine of $1,000 in order to hold a ceremony for the souls of the victims at Tuol Sleng museum,” Thunna said.
“I think more victims will also file petitions against Kem Sokha.”
The lawsuit was filed after Sokha refused to apologise for the remarks, which he has maintained he never made, saying the audio recordings of the statements released by the government were taken out of context and doctored.
Sokha was in Japan yesterday, and could not be reached for comment, but CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said the party was unconcerned with the suit, calling it a political ploy to paint Sokha in an unflattering light.
“We are not concerned about the complaint at all,” he said. “What we focus on are the issues of the border, immigration and the national issues that are the biggest concerns of Cambodians.”
Meanwhile, the law on Khmer Rouge Crimes Denial, which was proposed by a number of ruling-party lawmakers in the wake of the release of the alleged remarks, was approved by the Senate on Friday, said house spokesman Tep Makara.
According to a Senate press release, the law was passed without a single vote against it, a feat made possible by the fact that the vote was boycotted by all opposition senators, Sam Rainsy Party Senator Kong Korm said.
“We support the law, but it was proposed urgently, with little time for consultation about responsibility, and a lack of detailed discussion,” he said.