Sam Rainsy a No-Show in Kem Ley Defamation Case

Prosecutors say they will proceed with a defamation and incitement case against self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy after he failed to appear for questioning at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday, officials said.

The case stems from a message posted to Facebook by Mr. Rainsy accusing the government of orchestrating the July 10 murder of political analyst Kem Ley.

Mr. Rainsy, who is living abroad to avoid a prison sentence for a previous defamation case, was charged alongside opposition Senator Thak Lany, who stands accused of making similar claims about Kem Ley’s death in a speech.

Ms. Lany denies the charge, claiming that a video of her speech was edited, while Mr. Rainsy has reiterated his claim.

Court spokesman Ly Sophanna said on Friday that prosecutors would move ahead with the case against Mr. Rainsy in his absence.

“The charged person did not show up…so we decided to continue our investigation,” he said. “As required by the complaint, we will review any evidence that gives reason to act on the case.”

Mr. Rainsy said in an email that if he were charged and the case went to trial, he would ask to appear via video link.

“It would be ridiculous for a judge to hand down any sentence on me without [being] willing to first hear from me,” he said.

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