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Court Presses Ahead With Defamation Case Against Former Opposition Leader


Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week opened a hearing in a criminal defamation case against Rainsy filed by Prime Minister Hun Sen in August.

A lawyer for Cambodia’s former opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, has labeled a court’s decision to decline a request for a delay in proceedings a violation of Rainsy’s human rights.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week opened a hearing in a criminal defamation case against Rainsy filed by Prime Minister Hun Sen in August.

Hun Sen alleges that the former Cambodia National Rescue Party president defamed him by insinuating that the prime minister was involved in the daylight murder of prominent political analyst Kem Ley last year.

Hun Sen denies any involvement in the killing.

Rainsy’s lawyers had requested a postponement of the proceedings until a case filed in the United States by Rainsy - in which he is attempting to force U.S. oil giant Chevron, which owned the gas station where Ley was killed, to release the security camera footage of the incident - had concluded.

Judge Y Thavrak announced following the two-hour hearing that a verdict would be announced on March 30.

Sam Sokong, Rainsy’s lawyer, said he had not been given sufficient time to gather evidence to mount a defense.

“As a lawyer, I consider the unwillingness to give adequate time to the suspect ... before sentencing a violation of his human rights, particularly the right to a fair trial, which is accepted internationally,” Sokong said.

Ly Sophanna, court spokesman, said there were not justifiable grounds to postpone the hearing.

Ky Tech, Hun Sen’s lawyer, said he expected a guilty verdict on March 30. “I want them to be punished as they exaggerated the truth and falsely accused the government,” he said.

Hun Sen also filed a similar lawsuit against an opposition senator, Thak Lany, who subsequently fled overseas.

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