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Sam Rainsy Fined for Libel of Foreign Minister

A French court on Tuesday fined opposition leader Sam Rainsy and a French publisher $12,500 for public defamation of Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong.

The court found libelous one passage in a book written by Sam Rainsy and published by Jean-Etienne Cohen-Seat in May 2008, “The Roots in the Stone,” which accused Hor Namhong of collaboration with the Khmer Rouge and the deaths of “numerous” people, to a court announcement.

The costs include more than $5,000 for publishing a correction in two French newspapers.

The court order also included the deletion of one page of the book, which includes the sentence, “A few years later, the Minister of Foreign Affairs would be a collaborator of Khmer Rouge power, suspected for having caused the death of numerous persons, among them members of the royal family.”

Sam Rainsy said he lost the case because the French courts were not able to properly examine the case in Cambodia, and he planned to appeal.

“This is just a first step,” he said. “We will appeal and send more evidence to the court.”

During the April 2008 anniversary of the fall of Phnom Penh, Sam Rainsy said both the Minister of Finance, Keat Chhon, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hor Namhong, had been members of the Khmer Rouge.

The editor of an opposition newspaper, Dam Sith, was jailed for one week in June 2008 for publishing Sam Rainsy’s remarks. Dam Sith was released on bail and later met with Hor Namhong, who then said he was dropping his suit against the editor to prevent clouding the upcoming national elections.

“This is the second round of justice given to me in France, and for the second time in Cambodia,” Hor Namhong told VOA Khmer.