Outspoken commentator Kim Sok was this afternoon handed an 18-month prison sentence and ordered to pay Prime Minister Hun Sen $200,000 in compensation in the latest stage of what has been a theatrical trial for the provocateur.
Judge Ky Rithy also ordered Mr. Sok to pay a fine of 8 million riel, or about $2,000, to go toward the state budget, in addition to the 800 million riel compensation to Mr. Hun Sen as the president of the ruling CPP.
Mr. Sok was jailed in February for claiming on Radio Free Asia (RFA) that the government bore responsibility for last year’s assassination of political analyst Kem Ley, giving voice to a theory widely held among skeptics of the government’s denials.
The commentator is also facing another civil case filed by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who demanded a total of $502,500 for what the prime minister said were false claims about the murder—$500,000 in this case and $2,500 in another.
Mr. Sok did not tone down his rhetoric after the arrest, claiming Mr. Hun Sen should be the one standing trial, summoning the prime minister for questioning during a hearing, and claiming that Mr. Hun Sen’s officials sought his apology in exchange for leniency.
Mr. Sok stuffed paper into his ears during his hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last month in protest of what he said was a politically-motivated trial and blasted the court for following the orders of “Hun Sen’s hellish saliva.”
The charges were the latest twist for the former Funcinpec supporter and Information Ministry official, who rapidly rose to prominence at the end of last year for his outspoken commentary on RFA.