Opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Thursday said government accusations that he engineered a magazine article accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife of murder are “irresponsible,” and warned that a threatened defamation suit could reveal new details backing up the claim that she was behind the killing of Piseth Peaklica.
Speaking from Paris by telephone and e-mail, Rainsy said the government is blaming him for last week’s article in the French magazine L’Express because “I have long exposed their wrongdoing on many fronts, especially the system of impunity that has long reigned in Cambodia.”
L’Express said Hun Sen had a yearlong affair with Piseth Peaklica, prompting his jealous wife to hire hitmen to kill her.
Peaklica was gunned down July 6 by assassins in a brazen daylight hit near O’Russei market. No suspects have been arrested.
Om Yentieng, a senior adviser to Hun Sen, issued Wednesday a scathing point-by-point rebuttal of the article and said much of the evidence cited in it was fabricated as part of a “slanderous scheme” orchestrated by Sam Rainsy.
Om Yentieng noted that a Sam Rainsy in-law works on the staff of L’Express. Bun Rany, Hun Sen’s wife, is planning legal action, Om Yentieng added.
Rainsy admitted Thursday that one of his sisters-in-law works for the publication, but added, “What can you deduce from that?”
In a separate e-mailed statement, he attributed the charge to the government’s “Khmer Rouge background” and “communist thinking…in which you can do everything with power, guns, money and connections (corruption, cronyism).”
Sam Rainsy added Thursday that “it is any body’s right to file a lawsuit. But they must be careful because a responsible magazine like L’Express must have additional proof to back up their assertions. A court in a democratic country is not the same as a court in Cambodia which is controlled by the ruling party.’’
When asked to respond to accusations by the government that he was behind false allegations printed in L’Express, he responded: “I am not behind false allegations in L’Express. Personally, I believe the allegations are very plausible, and that they can likely be verified by an independent court.”