Ny Chakrya, former chief of the investigation unit of local rights group Adhoc, appeared at the Supreme Court Wednesday to demand the court drop all charges against him in an ongoing defamation case.
Chakrya, who served as the deputy secretary general of the National Election Committee (NEC), was sued by two judicial officials, Sok Keo Bandith, the deputy prosecutor, and Ky Rithy, the provincial court judge, and charged with defamation.
He was recently given a six month suspended sentence and his advocacy of the rights of two villagers involved in a land dispute in Siem Reap province.
“What I was doing was not about accusing those two judicial officials of committing any criminal offense, meaning that I want the Supreme Court to examine whether the arrest procedure was conducted wrongly or not. If it was wrong, they should intervene to help the victims,” Chakrya told reporters outside the Supreme Court.
Sam Sokong, Chakrya’s lawyer, said his client’s allegations of improper conduct by the judicial officials were backed up by evidence and therefore could not be considered defamatory.
“What my client was saying about the illegal arrest was the truth because there is evidence to prove it,” he told the court.
A ruling in the case is due on Sunday.
Am Sam Ath, head of investigations at rights group Lichado, said no offense was evident in a recording of the press conference where Chakrya allegedly made the defamatory comments about the two officials. “I only hope that the Supreme Court will decide to drop the charges,” he said.
Licadho also issued a statement, saying that “the civil parties and their lawyers were not present at the Supreme Court trial, denying the defendant the right to confront his accusers directly, as was the case at the Municipal Court.”
“Ny Chakrya’s right to prepare and conduct his defense for the initial court hearing and at the Appeals Court was also undermined as he was held in pretrial detention at the time on charges of acting as an accomplice to bribery in a separate politically motivated case,” added the statement.
On Wednesday, Chakrya was sentenced in a separate case, along with four other human rights defenders, with corruption over his alleged involvement in the bribery of a witness in a case against Cambodia’s former opposition leader, Kem Sokha.