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Youth Leader Wants Premier To Face Lawsuit ‘as a Normal Citizen’

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany cry during a memorial service near a bridge where festival goers were killed Monday in a stampede in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
PHNOM PENH - The leader of the youth wing for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party says he doubts he will get a fair hearing in his lawsuit against Prime Minister Hun Sen and other top officials, whom he says are culpable in the deadly bridge stampede of 2010.

“The court can't provide justice because it is afraid of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s power,” Soung Sophorn told “Hello VOA” Monday. “So it is necessary that he steps down first and stands before the court as a normal citizen.”

Soung Sophorn says the premier and others should take responsibility for allowing conditions that led to the bridge stampede, which took place at the annual Water Festival, attended by millions of people. A government inquiry found no one responsible for the disaster, which killed more than 350 people and injured another 400, prompting the suit.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has threatened to countersue if the courts find him innocent of Soung Sophoan’s claims, a reaction the youth leader called “inappropriate.”

Youth Leader Wants Premier To Face Lawsuit ‘as a Normal Citizen’
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Soung Sophorn, who has been beaten by police before for taking part in demonstrations in the past, said he filed his complaint to find justice for the victims of the stampede. But he also said his lawsuit contains a message.

“The prime minister and Cambodia’s leaders of all generations should have a culture of high accountability,” he said.