Opposition Lists Evidence Against Slander Suits

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.



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