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French Verdict Delayed in Sam Rainsy Lawsuit

The French Court of Appeals has delayed until May 20 the verdict in a lawsuit brought against opposition leader Sam Rainsy by Cambodia’s foreign minister.

“There is no decision yet, because the court will need to take the case under further consideration,” Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer Friday.

Sam Rainsy was found guilty in a lower court of defamation, for alleging in a memoir the minister, Hor Namhong, had colluded with the Khmer Rouge while supervising a Phnom Penh work camp under the regime.

Hor Namhong has said he was a victim within the Boeung Trabek camp, where several inmates died.

Hor Namhong brought four witnesses to testify in his favor, including Khmer Rouge historian Raoul Jennar, sources who attended a March 25 hearing in Paris told VOA Khmer. Around 50 Cambodians attended the hearing.

Sam Rainsy said those who would have come forward on his behalf were afraid for the safety of their families in Cambodia.

“We regret that some of the witnesses who were in the Boeung Trabek correction camp dared not to step forward to be my witnesses,” Sam Rainsy said.

Hor Namhong declined to comment on the case, but a spokesman for the ministry, Koy Kuong, said Hor Namhong had attended the hearing in person.

“This is an important case in which he must try to make sure the French appeals court provides him justice,” Koy Kuong told VOA Khmer.

Sam Rainsy said Friday he had submitted additional evidence to the French court to defend his writing.

Hor Namhong is also among six Cambodian government officials who have refused to appear before the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh, claiming they did not want to create bias in the UN-backed court.