Sar Kheng sues Rainsy for $1M over ‘revenge’ claims

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Interior Minister Sar Kheng is demanding $1 million in damages from Sam Rainsy after the former CNRP leader claimed he supported a revenge plot against Prime Minister Hun Sen. Heng Chivoan

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng is demanding $1 million in damages from Sam Rainsy after the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party claimed he supported a revenge plot against Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Sar Kheng, who is also deputy prime minister, filed a complaint last week at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court against Rainsy, requesting the court sentence him according to the law and demanding four billion riel ($1 million) in compensation.

The complaint stems from a claim Rainsy made on his Facebook page that Hun Sen’s son-in-law Dy Vichea was plotting revenge against the prime minister, which Sar Kheng supported, over the 2008 death of his father, National Police chief Hok Lundy.

Rainsy alleged that the helicopter crash Lundy died in was orchestrated by Hun Sen.

The complaint received by the municipal court said three lawyers representing Sar Kheng filed a complaint accusing Rainsy of committing “incitement to commit crimes” under articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code.

“Dy Vichea knows clearly about the murder of his father. Dy Vichea is formulating a plan to avenge his father’s death. This is supported by Sar Kheng because Sar Kheng knows clearly that Hun Sen is planning to depose him and destroy him,” the complaint outlines Rainsy as saying.

Rainsy’s claim was “fake news” slandering the top leaders of the government in an attempt to make them suspicious of each other in a bid to affect internal unity and cause conflict, it added.

“All this shows clearly that Sam Rainsy had the ill intentions to incite in an attempt to cause a breakup within the top leadership of the government, and to cause serious chaos and affect security, destroying political stability and overall peace,” the complaint said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesperson Kuch Kimlong said on Sunday that the court was looking into the complaint but was yet to make a decision on the charge.

Hak Seakly, one of Sar Kheng’s three lawyers, said on Sunday that as part of the process, the court would invite the plaintiff’s legal team to clarify their complaint.

Rainsy would also be summoned to explain his allegations to the court before it proceeded with the case. The court would then decide whether to charge Rainsy and with what offence.

In early June, Hun Sen and Sar Kheng said they would lodge complaints against Rainsy with the French legal system regarding the matter.

Vichea also said recently that his lawyer was preparing to file a complaint with the municipal court.

The Post could not reach Ky Tech, a lawyer for Hun Sen, and Vichea for comment on Sunday.

Rainsy told The Post via email on Sunday that it would be more transparent and more “courageous” for Sar Kheng to file his “defamation” lawsuit before a tribunal in France, the country he is currently residing in and from where he regularly issued his opinions.

“It would be definitely more interesting for the public to follow a lawsuit filed before an independent court, like the ones Hor Namhong – another Cambodian deputy prime minister – has been filing against me in Paris over the last 20 years."

“It’s pointless, worthless and useless to lodge a complaint at the kangaroo court in Phnom Penh, where any plaintiff attacking Sam Rainsy is 100 per cent sure to win his case,” Rainsy said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said all complainants should lodge cases against Rainsy with an independent French court, as Hun Sen and Sar Kheng had previously said they would.

“This legal action, unlike the ones taken at Cambodian courts in previous cases against him, could definitely depoliticise the current action taken against him, and any decision coming out of such an independent court would be unquestionably binding,” he said.