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Bar Cites Ethics Violations by Opposition Lawyer

The Cambodian Bar Association has called in for questioning a lawyer for an opposition parliamentarian who is fighting a defamation suit from Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Cambodian Bar Association Chiv Songhak told VOA Khmer Thursday the bar had charged Kong Sam Onn with violations of articles four, six and 15 of the code of ethics.

Ky Tech, former head of the Bar Association and a lawyer for Hun Sen, complained to the bar in April that Kong Sam Onn had violated a code of ethics in speeches made to the media, following a defamation suit brought by Mu Sochua against Hun Sen.

The court has since dropped the suit against Hun Sen, for allegedly degrading remarks made in the 2008 election campaign, but it is pursuing a countersuit filed by Hun Sen.

The retaliatory lawsuit highlights lingering questions of political bias within the court system, which critics say is in dire need of reform.

“We do not close our eyes to punish and to fine the innocent,” he said. “We find out the facts,” Chiv Songhak said. “If [Kong Sam Onn] has acted with wrongdoing in violations of the code of ethnics for licensed lawyers, we must punish him at the proper level of his wrongdoing.”

Kong Sam Onn, who will address the bar’s 19-member council on July 7, faces a range of punishment, including a mere warning, a fine, the suspension of his license, or disbarring.

He told VOA Khmer Thursday the charges against him were “baseless.”

“Every lawyer speaks with journalists and there is no charge and there is no fine,” he said. “But in my case, the Cambodian Bar Association must raise this for discussion.”