Prime Minister to File Lawsuit Against Commentator Over Kem Ley Accusation

Prime Minister Hun Sen is set to file a complaint today against social and political commentator Kim Sok for allegedly claiming the ruling party ordered the July killing of analyst Kem Ley, Mr. Hun Sen’s attorney said on Sunday.

It will be the third such lawsuit filed by the premier; an opposition senator fled the country when she was sued for similar claims.

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Commentator Kim Sok speaks on a Radio Free Asia show on Saturday.

Ky Tech, a lawyer for Mr. Hun Sen, said he would file a court complaint based on comments Mr. Sok made in a Saturday roundtable discussion on Radio Free Asia (RFA).

“In the forum, Kim Sok accused the ruling party of having a plan to damage the CNRP,” he said. “At the end, he said he meant that the ruling party shot and killed Kem Ley.”

In the RFA roundtable convened to discuss Sam Rainsy’s resignation as leader of the CNRP, Mr. Sok criticized the CPP for using “tricks” to damage the opposition party before reverting to a more generic “they” whom he blamed for killing Kem Ley.

Mr. Sok said he could not recall the details of his remarks, but denied that he explicitly pinned the killing on the CPP.

“I said that [the CPP] had a plan to damage the CNRP,” Mr. Sok said. “At another point, I just used the word ‘they’—that ‘they’ killed Mr Kem Ley—but I did not say the CPP or Samdech Hun Sen or Mr. Hun Sen killed Kem Ley. I don’t understand why Samdech Hun Sen linked himself to the word ‘they’ if they were not the person who killed Kem Ley.”

“I am also scared, but just scared that I will not receive justice,” Mr. Sok said. “I will not escape anywhere. I will face this problem.”

Kem Ley was killed at a gas station on July 10, sparking a national outpouring of anger and grief. Police investigations have centered on a former soldier named Oeuth Ang who claimed to have killed the analyst over a $3,000 debt, with a trial set to start next month.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Thak Lany was convicted in November in absentia for making similar claims in a speech. Courts are also prosecuting Mr. Rainsy for defamation and incitement for claiming that Kem Ley’s murder was an “act of state-sponsored terrorism.”

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