Phnom Penh Municipal Court has issued a summons for Say Bory, an adviser to retired King Norodom Sihanouk, for allegedly defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen over the controversial border treaty with Vietnam, a senior Interior Ministry official claimed Monday.
The Interior Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the ministry had received the court summons for Say Bory, who is accused of defaming Hun Sen in an Oct 5 letter that was posted on the retired King’s Web site.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said that he didn’t know whether the court had issued the summons for Say Bory, who lives in France.
Government lawyer Kar Savuth declined to comment.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Chief Prosecutor Ouk Savouth hung up the phone when he was asked for comment.
Kem Sokha, director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said that the summons was a sham because the courts were biased toward the government.
“When someone talks against the government the court claims that it is defamation,” he said.
Amid warnings from Hun Sen that lawsuits would be filed against anyone who accuses him of losing territory to Vietnam through the border treaty, two well-known government critics were jailed and criminal complaints filed against several others.
Amnesty International on Thursday called for people worldwide to urge the Cambodian government to release Beehive Radio station owner Mam Sonando and Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association.
Amnesty said the two constituted “prisoners of conscience.”
Om Yentieng, adviser to Hun Sen and head of the government’s human rights committee, said the government does not have the ability to release Mam Sonando and Rong Chhun.
“I think the speakers never think about right or wrong,” Om Yentieng said of Amnesty International.
He added that if the government interfered with the judicial process and had the two suspects released, they would be similarly criticized by Amnesty for interfering in the legal process.
“If the government releases them they will condemn the government [again],” he said.