Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has said he stands behind comments he made in the wake of the murder of government critic Kem Ley last month that prompted the premier on Monday to take him to court.
A day after Hun Sen filed a claim for defamation at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court against Rainsy, who had implicated the prime minister in the killing in a Facebook post, he doubled down on the accusation in an email to VOA.
“I believe that the government is behind the criminals who gunned down Mr. Kem Ley, in the same way it was behind the grenade attack in 1997 that killed at least 16 people, and in the same way it was also behind the assassination of [unionist] Mr. Chea Vichea in 2004 and that of [forest activist Chut Wutty] in 2012. All these acts of political violence pertained to state terrorism,” he wrote.
“My belief is based on the target and pattern similarities that characterized these assassinations and on the fact that only the government had the means and the capabilities to conduct such brazen attacks, to arrange for their cover-up and to ensure a total impunity for the perpetrators and their mastermind,” he added.
He went on to say that if the government had nothing to hide it would have allowed an independent and “credible” investigation with international participation to take place.
Sok Eysan, a ruling Cambodian People’s Party spokesman, urged Rainsy to return from self-imposed exile to face the charges.
“I am afraid he would not admit his wrongdoing. But if he does, then he should present himself at the court [to determine] if his actions were constructive criticism or defamation.”
Hun Sen filed the complaint against Rainsy on Monday and requested the court impose a symbolic fine of 100 riel (about 2 cents).