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Prime Minister Hun Sen is Sued in a New York Court

During his participation in the sixtieth United Nations General Assembly in New York from September 12 to 16, 2005, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was sued in a New York Court on charges he violated human rights in Cambodia when he was a Khmer Rouge middle-level commander in the 1970's, and in the grenade attack on a peaceful demonstration in front of the National Assemby on March 30, 1997, in which 16 people were killed and more than 100 others were wounded, including an American citizen, Ron Abney.

The suit was filed by at least 4 people, including Ron Abney, the American victim, and opposition leader Sam Rainsy, under the Alien Court Claim Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act. But the two plaintiffs could not be reached for comments today. The Honorable Luis Kaplan, the New York Court judge, who received the lawsuit has set a period of 20 days for Prime Minister Hun Sen to respond to the charges.

Om Yientieng, senior advisor to PM Hun Sen, said he was not aware of the suit until VOA asked him, but added he does not object to any legal proceedings to find justice as long as it is filed under the proper jurisdiction. A few days earlier, a Cambodian Court in Phnom Penh had cleared PM Hun Sen of any wrongdoings in the 1997 grenade attack.

Chan Mony, a journalist who lost his left eye and injured a leg in the attack, urged the government to look hard for the attackers and the people who were behind the attack and bring them to justice. He asked the government to protect the journalists' rights, but refused to comment on the new lawsuit by saying it is a personal matter.

Heang Rithy, President of Human Rights Group CNRO, who is a Cambodian legal consultant said anybody can sue anybody anywhere, but if the plaintiffs filed suit in the wrong jurisdiction, the accused has the rights to refuse to appear, and in this case there is an international law involved as well.