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Appeals Court Throws Out Suit Against Hun Sen

The Appeals Court on Wednesday upheld a lower court's decision to throw out a defamation lawsuit by opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua against the premier.

Mu Sochua, who has been fined $4,500 in a countersuit by Prime Minister Hun Sen, alleges that the premier made disparaging remarks about her in a public speech in April. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court threw out the case, and Mu Sochua appealed.

The decision showed "clearly" that "there is no balance of justice in Cambodia," Mu Sochua said Wednesday. "Equality before the law is only in theory. The loss of neutrality and independence of judges is a serious danger for the country."

Mu Sochua said she had no plan to pursue an appeal at the Supreme Court.

Hun Sen lawyer Ky Tech called the decision "fair."

"This decision was not surprising," said Pung Chiv Kek, president of the rights group Licadho.

Cambodia's courts have come under increased criticism since Mu Sochua had her parliamentary revoked, along with another opposition lawmaker, in April, and with the jailing of an opposition journalist and threats of a lawsuit against another.

Critics warn that the courts nationwide are being used as a tool to clamp down on dissent.