Critic of Cam­bo­dian leader de­fi­ant in defama­tion trial

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus - Photo: AFP

A PO­LIT­I­CAL an­a­lyst in Cam­bo­dia who faces up to two years in pri­son and a penalty of half a mil­lion dol­lars in a defama­tion case brought by Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen took a de­fi­ant stance in court Wed­nes­day, de­mand­ing that the leader con­front him in per­son.

Kim Sok was ar­rested in Fe­bru­ary af­ter giv­ing an in­ter­view to U.s.funded Ra­dio Free Asia that Hun Sen said im­plied that his gov­ern­ment was be­hind the killing last year of an­other po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst and critic of the gov­ern­ment, Kem Ley. A per­son ar­rested in that killing was sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment.

The Ph­nom Penh Mu­nic­i­pal Court, in its first hear­ing in Kim Sok’s case on Wed­nes­day, de­nied his de­mand that Hun Sen ap­pear.

The court said it would an­nounce its ver­dict on Aug. 10.

Rights groups ac­cuse Hun Sen’s gov­ern­ment of us­ing the courts to ha­rass its crit­ics.

Kim Sok told the court that Hun Sen’s pres­ence was nec­es­sary so that he could ex­plain why he filed the crim­i­nal com­plaint, which in­cludes a de­mand for $502,500 (K682.3 mil­lion) in com­pen­sa­tion.

Af­ter the judge turned down his re­quest to call Hun Sen to tes­tify, Kim Sok and his lawyer sought to walk out of the pro­ceed­ings, but the judge in­sisted he stay to an­swer ques­tions.

Kim Sok re­mained in the court­room but re­fused to com­mu­ni­cate with the judge. He rolled up two pieces of pa­per and stuck them in his ears as a ges­ture show­ing he did not want to fol­low the pro­ceed­ings.

“This trial is a show trial, a trial ar­ranged solely to sat­isfy Hun Sen,” Kim Sok said af­ter the hear­ing ended as he waited to be hand­cuffed and taken away by a guard.

Hun Sen’s lawyer, Ky Tech, said he rep­re­sented the prime min­is­ter and there was no need for Hun Sen to per­son­ally at­tend the trial.

Hun Sen is seen as crack­ing down on the op­po­si­tion to shore up his party’s strength ahead of a gen­eral elec­tion next year. He has been in power for three decades and has an­nounced his in­ten­tion not to step down.

– As­so­ci­ated Press

“One thing we know about this pres­i­dent is how com­mit­ted he is to re­viv­ing Amer­i­can man­u­fac­tur­ing and bring­ing jobs home, this right here shows ac­tual re­sults, get­ting it done,” Ryan said at the White House event.

The fac­tory will be built in his Con­gres­sional district, which has an un­em­ploy­ment rate ap­proach­ing 10 per­cent, much higher than the state-wide 3.2 per­cent.

The White House would not say what tax in­cen­tives were of­fered to en­tice the com­pany, but lo­cal me­dia re­ported a pack­age of around $3 bil­lion in tax breaks.

Fox­conn, also known as Hon Hai, has been mulling mov­ing to the US since at least the be­gin­ning of this year, hop­ing to have bet­ter con­trol over distri­bu­tion net­works.

The firm is the world’s largest con­tract elec­tron­ics maker and is best-known for as­sem­bling prod­ucts for in­ter­na­tional brands such as Ap­ple and Sony.

It em­ploys around a mil­lion work­ers at its fac­to­ries across China and has oper­a­tions in more than 10 coun­tries.

In the US, it has a plant in Vir­ginia for pack­ag­ing and en­gi­neer­ing which em­ploys over 400 peo­ple.

It has also an­nounced a $40 mil­lion in­vest­ment in a fa­cil­ity in Penn­syl­va­nia to build precision tools and de­velop a robotics pro­gram. – AFP

Po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Kim Sok greets supporters on his way to the mu­nic­i­pal court in Ph­nom Penh, Cam­bo­dia, in Fe­bru­ary. Photo: AP

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