The chairman of Cambodia’s League of Democracy Party is being investigated by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for allegedly “defaming the nation”.
The lawsuit against Khem Veasna was filed by court prosecutor Souch Seung on June 12 referring to alleged defamatory comments made by Veasna on February 12.
Seung said Veasna had “defamed the Khmer people, which includes me, as a cheap race and dogs.”
“With other comments, he harms my reputation as well as the nation’s reputation,” he added.
Seung said the aim of the lawsuit was to demand a public apology from Veasna.
Veasna is known for his fiery speeches, which have targeted both the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.
In videos posted to Facebook, Veasna allegedly said that he might “not accept Khmer nationality”.
Chin Thon, secretary of the LDP, said the case was politically motivated and declined to comment as to whether Veasna would attend a future court hearing.
“We will observe the case and investigate the origin of the plaintiff before we decide to appear in court,” he said. “The lawsuit is proceeding without any particular evidence.”
Yorng Kim Eng, executive director of the People Center for Development and Peace, said that politicians should avoid using inappropriate language that could be defamatory.
“Racial discrimination is an important issue, since it targets every individual in the nation. If you are Khmer, you are defamed... it is a serious issue that demands the authority’s attention.”