Bar Association Votes To Summon Mu Sochua’s Counsel

The Cambodian Bar As­so­cia­tion’s governing council voted Wed­nesday to summon lawyer Kong Sam Onn, legal counsel for SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, to appear before a disciplinary hearing for allegedly breaking the bar’s code of ethics for comments made about Prime Minister Hun Sen, the association said Thursday.

The 14 council members present voted in favor of summoning Mr Sam Onn for questioning on July 7 over a claim made by a panel of five bar investigators that he breached articles 4, 6 and 15 of the code of ethics, bar President Chiv Songhak said by telephone.

The investigation into Mr Sam Onn was ordered following a complaint lodged by Ky Tech, the prime minister’s lawyer, who claim­ed that Mr Sam Onn had defamed Mr Hun Sen by publicly claiming at a press conference that the prime minister had defamed his own client, Ms Sochua.

During the July 7 hearing, the council will determine if the allegations are true against Mr Sam Onn, Mr Songhak said.

“We will comply with the law. If we find mistakes we will punish him. If not, he is innocent. The Cam­bodian Bar Association is a place of law, we cannot do anything arbitrarily,” he said.

The decision to investigate Mr Sam Onn has been strongly criticized by rights groups.

Reached by telephone Thurs­day, Mr Sam Onn confirmed that he had been summoned to appear in front of the bar council but de­nied breaking the code of ethics saying that the decision was politically motivated.

“They chose to go against me. What about the lawyers at the Khmer Rouge tribunal. They spoke very openly. This isn’t the matter about the code of ethics, it is about something else,” he said, adding that he has been accused of breaking articles 4, 6 and 15 of the bar’s ethics code because he said in a press conference that Mr Hun Sen had defamed his client.

Article 4 of the code, Mr Sam Onn said, states that lawyers must always consult with their clients in private areas such as offices or at home and not in public areas. Ar­ticle 6 states that lawyers must respect the obligation of the oath they have taken and any participation in acts that are contrary to the law and regulations, professional rules of conduct or conscience are prohibited. Article 15, he continued, states that lawyers are prohibited from participating in media activities in their professional capacity ex­cept under certain circumstances and only after consulting the bar president.

“As a lawyer I respect the CBA code of conducts just like the way people respect the Constitution. I joined the press conference be­cause I thought I could provide more advantages to protect my client,” he said.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the free legal aid Cambodian Defenders Project, said Thursday that if Mr Sam Onn had only stated his opinion, then it should not be considered as against the code.

“The problem is not that he was at the press conference. The problem here is what he said, but I think it was only his opinion,” he added.

Mr Tech, the prime minister’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

(Additional reporting by Cajsa Collin)






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