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Cambodian Premier Sues Opposition Over Facebook Post

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen gestures as he arrives for a group photo of leaders at the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Saturday, July 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Hun Sen requested the court impose a symbolic fine of 100 riel (about 2 cents) in each case.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday filed lawsuits against opposition leader Sam Rainsy and a senator in his party over statements that allegedly implicated the premier in the murder of prominent government critic Kem Ley earlier this month.

According to the lawsuit filed at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court this week, Rainsy, who is in self-imposed exile abroad, wrote on his Facebook page on July 10 that “the fatal shooting of Kem Ley today is another terrorist act organized by the authorities.”

Hun Sen also filed a case against Thakk Lany, a Cambodia National Rescue Party senator, after she allegedly made a statement saying that she did not know “what Hun Sen is thinking… it’s not as if Kem Ley was shot accidentally.”

She is alleged to have made the remarks during a public forum in Ratanakkiri province on Friday.

Hun Sen’s lawyer is arguing that the remarks were defamatory and impacted upon the prime minister’s “honor and dignity” and were intended to fuel public anger.

He requested the court impose a symbolic fine of 100 riel (about 2 cents) in each case.

Local media broadcast on Saturday a video of Lany apparently making the remarks, which could not be independently verified.

“Kem Ley was a political analyst. He mentioned Global Witness previously. He mentioned the aspect of Hun Sen and his children committing corruption,” she said, referring to a recent report by the transparency watchdog that suggested Hun Sen’s family had abused their position to enrich themselves.

Lany could not be reached for comment. On Sunday she told local media that she had not made the accusation against Hun Sen.

Rainsy did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

In July, he was sentenced for defaming Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly, and went into exile after an arrest warrant was issued for another defamation case, which could have seen him spend two years in jail.