Court de­lays rul­ing in Rainsy defama­tion case

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Niem Ch­heng

THE Supreme Court on Wed­nes­day de­layed its rul­ing in the Sam Rainsy defama­tion case in which the newly nom­i­nated Cam­bo­dia Na­tional Res­cue Party ( CNRP) act­ing pres­i­dent was or­dered to pay Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen four bil­lion riel (around $1 mil­lion) in com­pen­sa­tion.

The case cen­tred on ac­cu­sa­tions Rainsy made in France while meet­ing sup­port­ers of the Supreme Court-dis­solved CNRP. He al­leged that Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen had given so­cial me­dia celebrity Thy So­van­tha a $1 mil­lion bribe us­ing money gained through cor­rup­tion to at­tack the CNRP.

So­van­tha was a for­mer CNRP sup­porter who later joined the rul­ing part y Cam­bo­dian Peo­ple’s Part y be- fore com­mune elec­tions last year.

Nei­ther party was present in court, but the Supreme Court judges de­cided to pro­ceed with the hear­ing and ruled that as it was only a mis­de­meanour charge, the ab­sence of the ac­cused would not af­fect the trial pro­ce­dure. The hear­ing then lasted less than 10 min­utes.

Dur­ing the meet­ing in France in Jan­uary last year, Rainsy claimed: “Hun Sen bribes Thy So­van­tha $1 mil­lion . . . He bribed her to do bad things, to at­tack and cause trou­ble for the CNRP . . . to hold protests.

The ac­cu­sa­tion stemmed from mes­sages al­legedly leaked from So­van­tha’s Face­book ac­count be­tween her and Hun Sen in Novem­ber last year. The mes­sages pur­port­edly dealt with un­der- min­ing the CNRP, with the prime min­is­ter call­ing So­van­tha “grand­child” and of­fer­ing her $1 mil­lion.

So­van­tha claimed her page was hacked and the mes­sages fab­ri­cated.

In De­cem­ber last year, the Ph­nom Penh Mu­nic­i­pal Court found Rainsy guilty of defama­tion and or­dered him to pay Hun Sen four bil­lion riel, with a fur­ther fine of 10 mil­lion riel (around $2,400).

Prose­cu­tor Uk Kim­sith re­quested the Supreme Court judges to up­hold the de­ci­sion of the lower court.

“The prose­cu­tor sees that the lawyer for the ac­cused re­ceived an in­vi­ta­tion let­ter but did not sub­mit doc­u­ments [out­lin­ing an] ar­gu­ment.

“The fact that Sam Rainsy ac­cused Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen of bribing Thy So­van­tha with $1 mil­lion us­ing money from cor­rup­tion is defama­tion ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle 305 [of the Crim­i­nal Code].

“There­fore, I would like the judges to up­hold the lower court’s de­ci­sion and re­gard it as cor­rect,” Kim­sith said.

Pre­sid­ing Judge Kim Sathav y de­layed hand­ing down a ver­dict in t he case un­til De­cem­ber 19.

Rainsy’s de­fence law yer Sam Sokong could not be reached for com­ment.

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