Court Questions Party President in Defamation Suit

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday questioned Khmer Power Party President Sourn Serey Ratha over his defamation suit against Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong.

In January 2015, Mr. Serey Ratha was convicted in absentia of incitement, obstructing elections and plotting against the government but returned from exile following a royal pardon arranged by Prime Minister Hun Sen in July.

Khmer Power Party President Sourn Serey Ratha arrives at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)
Khmer Power Party President Sourn Serey Ratha arrives at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)

In December, he sued Mr. Namhong over a speech in which the foreign affairs minister said that unnamed party members had “committed terrorism in Cambodia.”

Mr. Serey Ratha said on Wednesday that the party members were convicted of “plotting, but the court did not sentence us for terrorism, so it’s wrong.” He is demanding 500 million riel, or about $125,000, in damages.

Mr. Namhong’s lawyer, Kar Savuth, argued that “terrorism” and “plotting” were more or less the same thing.

“Hor Namhong just used diplomatic language when he said [Mr. Serey Ratha’s] members had committed terrorism, so what he said was in line with the court verdict,” Mr. Savuth said.

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