Three Funcinpec lawyers were summoned to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday to reaffirm they would pursue the royalist party’s lawsuit against Prime Minister Hun Sen, one of the lawyers said Tuesday.
The legal team was invited by Deputy Prosecutor Yet Chakriya to make sure they wanted to press forward with the court complaint launched earlier this month, the lawyer said. He declined to be named because he said he feared for his safety. “We are still continuing our lawsuit,” he said.
Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou confirmed Tuesday the party had no plans to drop the case.
Funcinpec filed a criminal complaint with the municipal court against Hun Sen on Dec 1, accusing the premier of inciting the Oct 18 shooting death of pro-Funcinpec radio journalist Chuor Chetharith. The lawsuit countered an earlier court complaint launched by the CPP and Hun Sen against Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, charging the prince with defamation for allegedly implicating Hun Sen in the journalist’s death.
The Funcinpec lawyer said the royalists’ lawsuit was purely political, as it was launched at the height of tension between the three political parties.
“I think the two lawsuits will be withdrawn when the political tension is relieved,” he said.
As National Assembly members, Prince Ranariddh and Hun Sen are protected by parliamentary immunity. But, the lawyer said Funcinpec’s legal team possesses enough evidence to prove Hun Sen motivated the journalist’s killing, including incriminating audio and video tapes.
Just days before Chuor Chetharith was gunned down, Hun Sen warned the journalist’s employer, the pro-Funcinpec Ta Prohm radio station, not to broadcast programs critical of his speeches.
Kassie Neou said he was uncertain whether Funcinpec would, in fact, drop its lawsuit once the political dispute is resolved.
“That’s not the line of the party,” Kassie Neou said. “We haven’t talked about that yet.”
Yet Chakriya could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Hun Sen’s lawyer, Kar Savuth, declined Tuesday to comment on either lawsuit. “I dare not say something,” Kar Savuth said.
Many court officials said they feared for their safety after the April 24 shooting of senior municipal court judge Sok Sethamony. His death came on the heels of the shooting death of Appeals Court clerk, Chhim Dara on April 9.
Officials from Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party’s Alliance of Democrats said Tuesday they were preparing for a task force meeting with the CPP, scheduled to take place at the Royal Palace this morning. The three parties are expected to negotiate on the formation of the Assembly. (Additional reporting by Wency Leung)