PHNOM PENH —
Prominent political analyst and founder of the Future Forum think tank Ou Virak called for a libel complaint against him to be dropped during a court appearance on Thursday.
On April 25 the ruling Cambodian People’s Party filed a complaint against Virak claiming he had damaged the reputation of the party by alleging in a radio interview that a high-profile corruption case against opposition deputy leader Kem Sokha was being pursued for political gain.
“I denied that I said anything about private affairs. Due to this, I denied [the allegations] and I asked the prosecutor to stop pursuing the case,” Virak said yesterday after the hearing.
Sokha is accused of engaging in an affair with his mistress, Khom Chandaraty, also known as Srey Mom. The case against Sokha has seen several rights workers and an election official charged with bribery after they allegedly offered money to Chandaraty.
Sok Eysan, a CPP spokesman, told VOA Khmer that Virak’s defense was “his opinion” and that Eysan as a CPP member was a “victim” who had “no choice but to rely on the court for justice.”
“He can say what he wants to say, but his opinion is not the arbitrator in this case. It’s down to the court” he added.
The CPP has demanded $100,000 in damages from Ou Virak, a sum he said he could not and would not pay.
“I’m not willing to pay money for something which is not right,” he said.
Virak was one of several political observers who voiced criticism of the CPP’s policy regarding the ongoing case against Sokha.
Kem Ley, an analyst who founded his own political movement, said politicians should not use the courts to attack government critics.
“There will always be criticism from those who use immoral words to twist or defame others. We should let society educate them rather than hand them over to the court,” he said.
A court spokesman said the judiciary would continue to investigate Virak’s case.