Lawyer Claims to Keep Proof Senator Is Innocent for Appeal

The lawyer for an opposition senator being sued for accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen of ordering the assassination of political analyst Kem Ley said on Wednesday that he had evidence proving his client was innocent, but was saving it for the appeal.

Thak Lany, a senator for the legacy Sam Rainsy Party, was charged with defamation and incitement over a speech she gave in Ratanakkiri province, which was filmed. A clip was played on the first day of her trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last month. In it, she is seen and heard telling a crowd of opposition supporters: “Now Mr. Hun Sen doesn’t know what he’s thinking. In his restlessness, he killed Mr. Kem Ley, a political analyst.”

The man arrested for the shooting claims he did it because Kem Ley owed him $3,000, but many believe the gunman was following orders. Mr. Hun Sen has denied any involvement.

At the end of the second and last day of the trial on Wednesday, Ms. Lany’s lawyer, Sam Sokong, said he had his own video clip of the Ratanakkiri event proving his client’s innocence. “But we did not submit it to the lower court because we want to give the video clip to the higher court,” he said, referring to the Court of Appeal.

“We wanted to see what evidence the police and deputy prosecutor have to accuse my client,” he added.

During the trial on Wednesday, Mr. Sokong argued that the prosecution’s video should be rejected because its provenance was a mystery and because the event in Ratanakkiri had been a private affair for party members only, rendering any video footage recorded of it illegal.

Mr. Hun Sen’s lawyer, Ky Tech, argued the event was, in fact, public. Deputy prosecutor Ly Sophana added that the senator’s comments were a danger to public order.

“There could be chaos because of what Ms. Thak Lany did and it could make the people rise up against Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen,” he said.

Ms. Lany did not attend the trial and has not been seen in public since the lawsuit was filed in July.

The court is scheduled to declare a verdict on November 17.

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