PHNOM PENH —
The Court of Appeals last week denied a request by jailed political analyst Kim Sok to meet his accuser, Prime Minister Hun Sen, in court during his trial for defamation and incitement.
Sok was detained in February after Hun Sen filed a complaint against him for allegedly defaming the premier and “inciting social chaos” by suggesting that Hun Sen may have had a hand in the murder of political analyst Kem Ley last year.
Hun Sen has demanded the astronomical sum of $500,000 in compensation, a figure far above Sok’s means.
Choung Chou Ngy, Sok’s lawyer, said the defense would argue that Sok’s comments were in fact accurate and true, therefore could not be considered defamation, a line of argument that would require the presence of the plaintiff.
“Kim Sok claimed that what he said was factual. ... that’s why he wanted the plaintiff to meet him directly,” he said.
Ky Tech, Hun Sen’s lawyer, declined to answer reporters’ questions as he arrived at the court on Friday last week.
Touch Tharith, Appeals Court spokesman, said there was no need for Hun Sen to personally appear in court as there was sufficient evidence to prosecute in his absence.
Hun Sen is also suing Sok for other comments he made, where he alleged that the government led by Hun Sen has been responsible for numerous political murders in recent years, with the killers protected by widespread impunity.
Journalists were barred from attending the trial proceedings.
Sok is a former member of the royalist Funcinpec party and one-time government employee who became an outspoken critic of Hun Sen’s strongman tactics in recent years.