Incitement case over Ley comments wraps

Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks to the press after an event in 2015 in Phnom Penh.
Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks to the press after an event in 2015 in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

A verdict is due on March 30 in the incitement and defamation case brought against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy by Prime Minister Hun Sen over comments suggesting government involvement in the murder of political analyst Kem Ley.

The case, one of several brought against the former Cambodia National Rescue Party president that are widely believed politically motivated, was tried by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday.

Speaking to journalists after the two-hour hearing, lawyer for the premier Ky Tech said his team had called police from the Interior Ministry to testify that clips of Rainsy making the claim at a public forum in France, where the politician has lived to avoid arrest since November 2015, were genuine.

“I believe the judge and the court will make an appropriate ruling,” he added, noting Rainsy had not produced evidence to back up his claims. “I hope the court will sentence and fine him according to the law.”

Reached yesterday, Rainsy, who left the CNRP in February to avoid his convictions being used against the party, said he stood by his comments.

“I stand by all my previous statements related to this act of state terrorism,” he wrote.

Rainsy’s lawyer Sam Sokong, who attended the hearing, was unreachable yesterday