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Editor Apologizes to Hun Sen for Stories

An opposition editor accused of publishing inciting articles apologized to the prime minister on Thursday, vowing to discontinue publication of his newspaper in a bid to avoid court and possible imprisonment.

“I understand my serious mistakes and have regret and very much remorse in my life,” Dam Sith, editor of Moneasekar Khmer, wrote in a letter to Hun Sen.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has subpoenaed Dam Sith to appear in court July 14, “to answer charges by the government over defamation, insult, disinformation, incitement and the breakup of solidarity.”

In his letter, Dam Sith swore to discontinue publication of his newspaper.

“I will not publish Moneaksekar Khmer newspaper on receiving forgiveness from Samdech Akkak Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen,” Dam Sith wrote, using the full title of the prime minister and asking for help in being freed from charges in the court. “I would like to promise to support the win-win policy of [Hun Sen] in the construction of the nation toward progress.”

Long Dara, a government lawyer, said Dam Sith published 18 articles between February and May 2009 attacking government officials without fact. But he said the prime minister would now withdraw the case against him, having received the letter of apology.

“Samdech approved of the apology letter,” Long Dara said. “We have written to pull the lawsuit out of court.”

Dam Sith was jailed for two weeks in 2008 for publishing remarks by opposition leader Sam Rainsy that implicated Foreign Minister Hor Namhong in Khmer Rouge collaboration. He was freed when Hor Namhong dropped the suit against him.

His apology comes after another opposition journalist, Hang Chakra, received a yearlong prison sentence and $2,250 fine for articles he published in his Khmer Machach Srok newspaper, attacking senior officials for corruption.

Prior to that arrest, the National Assembly voted to strip the immunity of two Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers, Mu Sochua and Ho Vann, who are fighting defamation cases brought by Hun Sen and 22 senior military leaders, respectively.