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Appeals Court to Hear Mu Sochua Case

The Appeals Court is expected later this month to hear the defamation case against opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua, after she was ordered by a lower court to pay $4,000 in a suit brought by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The case against Mu Sochua, filed after she herself sued the premier for allegedly disparaging remarks in a speech in April, has worried critics of a trend where senior officials have used the courts to silent dissent.

Mu Sochua, who represents Kampong province for the Sam Rainsy Party, appealed when she lost the suit in Phnom Penh Municipal Court in August. She earlier had her parliamentary immunity suspended in order for the courts to pursue its case.

Appeals Court prosecutor Cheth Khemara requested Mu Sochua appear Oct. 28, requesting she “bring various documents relating to this penal case with her, if necessary.”

Ky Tech, Hun Sen’s lawyer, said he was confident the Appeals Court would uphold the finding of the municipal court.

Mu Sochua said she had little hope for a fair verdict.

“I have no choice, but I’ll use a judicial system that I think has very little independence,” she said.

She called on Appeals Court judges “to use their discretion, standing on capacity and judgment with conscience and professionalism.”

Last month, Phnom Penh Municipal Court dropped a defamation case against SRP lawmaker Ho Vann, who had been sued by a group of senior military officials.

Meanwhile, opposition journalist Hang Chakra is serving a one-year prison sentence for publishing stories on corruption within the powerful Council of Ministers.