Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha appeared at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday to respond to breach of contract allegations from 2006 when he was head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.
Speaking to a reporter at the courthouse, Mr Sokha said he had requested that the court drop the cases as the statute of limitations had lapsed.
“There are two people who sued me, not many,” he said. “I hope that there are no further actions. If he upholds the law, he cannot charge me,” he said, of deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun, adding that 14 of the 16 people involved had dropped their complaints.
At the center of the dispute is an education program that CCHR set up with funds donated by the International Republican Institute, an organ of the US Republican Party.
The plaintiffs accuse Mr Sokha of paying the directors of the program only $800 even though IRI had allotted more them $1,000 a month, a claim Mr Sokha dismisses.
“IRI set aside funds to pay them $800 a month and the CCHR gave them $800 per month,” he said. Mr Sokha is also accused of withholding a $30 monthly phone-card allowance for 16 people, forging their signatures to indicate payment. Mr Sokha dismisses this claim as well.
“I called the CCHR accountant, and he told me that they paid Mr Phalvorun. When they said they were cheated, I set up an investigation to help them,” but they were paid, he said
Chhim Phalvorun, a plaintiff, said, “What Mr Sokha said is not true and I think he lies. I filed the suit against him to demand payment that he cut.”
Mr Sokha’s lawyer, Sa Sovan, said this dispute was not a breach of contract at all.
“It’s a dispute between the employer and employees. They should file the complaint to the council of arbitration before filing with the court, ” Mr Sovan said.
Deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun yesterday said that he had received related documents but that the matter was still under review.
“I received the documents from Kem Sokha and I am examining them. I did not charge him yet,” he said.