Phnom Penh Municipal Court summoned Prime Minister Hun Sen’s lawyer for questioning on Thursday about the premier’s defamation lawsuit against SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua and her attorney, officials said.
The premier’s legal team is also apparently stepping up its attack on Ms Mu Sochua’s legal representative, Kong Sam Onn, by filing a complaint with the Cambodian Bar Association asking that the attorney be temporarily disbarred.
The prime minister’s lawyer, Ky Tech, who was until recently president of the bar association, filed a defamation lawsuit last month against Ms Mu Sochua and Mr Kong Sam Onn in response to a defamation lawsuit filed against the premier by the SRP lawmaker.
Ms Mu Sochua claims that Mr Hun Sen defamed her during an April 4 speech that was broadcast nationally. In that speech, the premier used a derogatory term to describe an unnamed woman who Ms Mu Sochua says was clearly herself.
Municipal Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun said Sunday that he has summoned Ky Tech to question him about the defamation suit he filed on the prime minister’s behalf.
“I want to question him about his lawsuit,” the deputy prosecutor said by telephone, adding that at this point he has made no request to the National Assembly to strip Ms Mu Sochua’s parliamentary immunity, a necessary precondition for the court to take any action against the opposition lawmaker.
“It is too early,” Mr Sok Roeun said of any such request.
It remained on Sunday less than certain what, if any, steps the court had taken regarding the suit filed against the prime minister.
Though filed on the same day as the prime minister’s lawsuit, Kong Sam Onn said that no court dates have been set in his case against the premier, and Municipal Prosecutor Yet Chakriya, who is handling the matter, did not answer repeated telephone calls for comment.
Mr Ky Tech said Sunday that he will appear at the court on May 7 in accordance with Mr Sok Roeun’s summons.
“As a plaintiff’s lawyer I will push for charges against the defendants [Ms Mu Sochua and Mr Kong Sam Onn],” he said by telephone.
He added that he has also filed a separate complaint with the Cambodian Bar Association asking that Mr Kong Sam Onn be temporarily disbarred.
“I am filing a complaint to request the Bar Association’s council to punish him; in [the] case he committed a criminal offense he should be suspended,” said Mr Ky Tech, who served as president of the bar association until just last year.
Mr Ky Tech claims Mr Kong Sam Onn has violated the CBA code of ethics by announcing the intention of the lawsuit against the prime minister before he actually filed it with the court, and because he publicly claimed that Mr Hun Sen had defamed his client.
“He claimed Samdech [Hun Sen] defamed Mu Sochua before the court made a decision,” Mr Ky Tech said.
CBA President Chiv Songhak confirmed that the Bar Association received Mr Ky Tech’s complaint on Friday, but the Bar Council’s 19 members have not met to discuss the matter.
“I have not read the complaint yet, but the council will consider the complaint [and] whether we should punish or not punish [Mr Kong Sam Onn],” he said. However, he added, lawyers are allowed to protect their clients before a lawsuit is brought to the court and after the case is finished, so long as they respect the CBA’s code of conduct.
Mr Kong Sam Onn said Sunday that he has complied with all ethical guidelines in providing legal assistance for Ms Mu Sochua.
“It was not about the code of ethics. I said that Ms Mu Sochua would file a complaint [against Hun Se], so she has filed,” he said.
He added that he is not worried about Mr Hun Sen’s lawsuit against him at the court or the complaint to the CBA. “There are no grounds to accuse me of defamation. When we speak slander there must be false information, but Mu Sochua did file the complaint,” he said.
“Even if a killer asks me to be his lawyer, I must help the client, but I am not an accomplice of the killer,” he added.