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Funcinpec Politicians Face Lawsuit Over PM Bribe Claims

Lu Laysreng, a former official from Funcinpec Party, at a commemoration ceremony, to mark the 20th anniversary of the coup in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 6, 2017. (Hean Socheata/VOA Khmer)

Lu Laysreng has reportedly fled to Thailand following the leak, though this could not be independently confirmed.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and the former co-prime minister, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, have said they will file a complaint against a senior Funcinpec Party official after a leaked voice recording in which the official claimed party members had received bribes and referred to the late King Norodom Sihanouk as a “castrated rooster”.

Lu Laysreng, a senior Funcinpec official, allegedly said in the recording that Funcinpec veterans had been given $20,000 each by Hun Sen as part of a deal for them to assume the seats of the opposition in parliament after the Cambodia National Rescue Party is dissolved.

The recording, purportedly of a phone call between Laysreng and Ky Lum Ang, a former Funcinpec lawmaker, was published on pro-government Facebook page “Sei Ha”.

In the recording, a man alleged to be Laysreng can be heard saying: “Let’s see if he has courage. If not, he [Hun Sen] should abandon his throne and let another person have it.”

The authenticity of the recording could not be confirmed.

Hun Sen responded saying that individuals who insult the monarchy and “spread rumors” would face legal action.

Laysreng allegedly said in the recording, referring to the deal that would see Funcinpec become the second-largest party in parliament after Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party: “Those shameless people are accepting the division of the chamber. They will make easy money, as the prime minister bribed them with $20,000 each. It was almost a million dollars [altogether],” he said.

Laysreng publicly apologized for the comments on Sunday in a video posted online.

Funcinpec spokesman Nheb Bun Chin said the party was preparing to take legal action against Laysreng, who could not be reached for comment.

Laysreng has reportedly fled to Thailand following the leak, though this could not be independently confirmed.

Sok Sam Oeun, a veteran lawyer, said leaked or tapped phone recordings were usually inadmissible as evidence in court and there was no law governing insulting the monarchy specifically, but that in Cambodia the law was “unclear”.

While it is illegal to record a private conversation without consent under the criminal code, the Sei Ha Facebook page has never been investigated despite numerous similar “leaks” in the past.