The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has summoned opposition leader Sam Rainsy and Senator Thak Lany for questioning over Prime Minister Hun Sen’s lawsuit accusing them of defamation and incitement for tying him to political analyst Kem Ley’s murder last month.
Mr. Rainsy, who is in self-imposed exile avoiding a prison sentence stemming from a previous defamation and incitement case, used his Facebook page to accuse Mr. Hun Sen’s government of orchestrating Kem Ley’s July 10 shooting. Ms. Lany allegedly blamed the prime minister himself during a speech she gave to opposition supporters last week, though she claims that the audio of a video recording used as evidence to sue her was doctored.
Mr. Hun Sen has denied having any role in the murder. His lawyer, Ky Tech, filed suits against the pair on Monday.
On Wednesday, deputy court prosecutor Ly Sophana told reporters that he had issued summonses the day the suits were filed calling the lawyers and two defendants in for questioning.
“We are proceeding with the investigation of these two cases by speaking with witnesses and looking at the complaint and evidence and relevant documents,” he said.
The prosecutor said he had called Mr. Hun Sen’s lawyer to appear on Friday, Ms. Lany on Monday and Mr. Rainsy on August 19.
Mr. Rainsy did not reply to a request for comment about the summons. But the CNRP president, who is facing a barrage of lawsuits widely seen as politically motivated, has remained abroad since November and given no indication of an imminent return.
Ms. Lany has been unreachable since Monday.
On Tuesday Mr. Hun Sen claimed the the senator had attempted to flee to Thailand through the Poipet City checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province and warned that she would be arrested if she tried again. He did not explain on what legal grounds authorities would arrest the Sam Rainsy Party senator, who has not been charged and enjoys legal immunity.
The legacy party’s acting president, Teav Vannol, said on Wednesday that he had not heard from or been able to contact Ms. Lany since the lawsuit was filed.
“If we meet I will urge her to answer the questions at court to show that her voice was edited by someone,” he said.