Defamation Suit Reaches Human Rights Advocate

A lawyer for prominent rights advocate Ny Chakrya on Wednesday confirmed that she had received a lawsuit against her client from a pair of court officials in Siem Reap province who accuse him of defamation and other crimes.

The Justice Ministry said last week that Sok Keobandith, a deputy prosecutor at the Siem Reap Provincial Court, and Ky Rithy, an investigating judge, were suing Mr. Chakrya in Phnom Penh over his claims against them. Mr. Chakrya had filed a complaint against the pair with the Justice Ministry and Supreme Court, accusing them of mishandling the case of two villagers who were jailed over a land dispute.

Mr. Chakrya’s lawyer, Kea Sophal, said she received the lawsuit on Tuesday, and that it accused her client of defamation, malicious denunciation, and intention to unlawfully coerce judicial authorities.

“They have provided evidence including photos of Mr. Chakrya …speaking about the injustices in Siem Reap and two sound clips,” Ms. Sophal said, adding that she had not yet listened to the clips.

She said Mr. Chakrya, who denies any wrongdoing, had yet to be summoned or charged.

Meanwhile, the two villagers at the center of the dispute, Boeun Sok and Ven Lorn, stood trial at the Siem Reap court Wednesday.

The men were involved in protests against a private company, Community Takhmao Development Agricultural & Industrial, that villagers in Siem Reap’s Svay Loeu district accused of illegally clearing their farmland. They were jailed in January and charged with aggravated property damage.

Ms. Sophal, who also represents Mr. Sok and Mr. Lorn, said the firm accuses them of destroying its cassava trees in December.

She said Wednesday’s trial proceeded “fairly,” and that all parties were given the appropriate opportunity to present their case.

Siem Reap court prosecutor Keut Vannareth confirmed that the hearing took place, but said he did not participate. Mr. Keobandith declined to comment. According to Ms. Sophal, the court will announce a verdict on June 26.

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