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Opposition Leader Gets Two More Years in Lawsuit

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy, right, and his supporters greet onlookers at a busy market during an election rally in the capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, June 26, 2008.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court handed opposition leader Sam Rainsy two more years of jail time Monday, after Cambodia’s foreign minister sued him for defamation.

Sam Rainsy, who lives in exile abroad, is now facing 14 years in jail sentences from a series of criminal suits, rendering him ineligible to partake in national elections in 2013.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong sued him for defamation and incitement for remarks in a public speech linking the minister to the Khmer Rouge.

Sam Rainsy accused Hor Namhong of being “a former Boeung Trabek prison chief under the Khmer Rouge,” during a remembrance ceremony at the Choeung Ek execution site in 2008.

Hor Namhong has said repeatedly he was a prisoner, not a cohort, of the Khmer Rouge.

The court sentenced Sam Rainsy to two years in prison and a fine of $2,000.

Kar Savuth, a lawyer for Hor Namhong, said the decision was just.

Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer from France on Monday the decision was political.

“For me, Sam Rainsy, I am not interested in this conviction at all, because the court in Phnom Penh, the courts in Cambodia, are unjust courts,” he said. “These courts are not only unjust for me, but also for thousands of Cambodians who have lost their land, farming and houses because of unjust courts.”