Faced with a slew of defamation lawsuits and pressed by retired King Norodom Sihanouk, the Sam Rainsy Party maintains it has sufficient evidence to support its allegedly defamatory claims.
Opposition party lawyer Som Chandina said Monday that party leader Sam Rainsy has documents to prove his claim that Prince Norodom Ranariddh, head of the National Assembly and president of Funcinpec, took bribes from Prime Minister Hun Sen to enter a coalition government last year.
Sam Rainsy has documents showing that Hun Sen transferred an aircraft to Funcinpec prior to the formation of the government, the lawyer said.
“The Prime Minister transferred state property to Funcinpec,” he said. “Legally speaking, it is evidence to prove bribery.”
Sam Rainsy, who along with fellow opposition lawmakers Chea Poch and Cheam Channy were stripped of parliamentary immunity earlier this month, stands accused of defaming Prince Ranariddh for his allegations of bribery.
Sam Rainsy is also accused of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen for charging that the Hun Sen-led government wanted to kill seven political activists, including himself, following the January 2004 shooting death of union leader Chea Vichea.
In recent weeks, Norodom Sihanouk has urged Sam Rainsy “to show the Court and the public those files or proofs” of bribes.
Som Chandina on Monday said he could not immediately release documents of the aircraft transfer.
Funcinpec, however, has said that the aircraft in question—a small Falcon-20E passenger jet—was merely returned to the prince, after he lost it to the CPP during the 1997 factional fighting.
Som Chandina said Sam Rainsy can further prove that the prince received $30 million to form a government with the CPP. In his accusations against the prince, Sam Rainsy had cited an article by the Khmer-language Voice of Khmer Youth newspaper, the lawyer said.
In that article, Prince Ranariddh was reported to have received $30 million from a businessman through an Australian bank. Since the prince never refuted the newspaper article within three months, as allowed by under the press law, “Sam Rainsy can use the article as evidence,” Som Chandina said.
As for Hun Sen’s lawsuit against Sam Rainsy, opposition party Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang said Monday that Sam Rainsy never actually defamed the prime minister.
Sam Rainsy was tipped off by Chea Vichea before the union leader was killed that the government planned to kill seven people, Eng Chhay-Eang said.
Once Chea Vichea was shot dead, he said, Sam Rainsy “just announced to the public for the government to take responsibility” over the lives of the seven people.
“This is not defaming [Hun Sen],” Eng Chhay Eang added.
Contacted Monday, Municipal Prosecutor Nget Sarath said he has not yet summoned Sam Rainsy for questioning over the defamation cases because he is still sorting through evidence.
“This involves many business contracts that we need to examine thoroughly,” he said.
Sam Rainsy, who fled the country after he was stripped of immunity, has said he will return once summoned by the court.