Phnom Penh Municipal Court has summoned self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy for questioning next Tuesday over a two-year-old defamation and disinformation lawsuit filed against him by Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong.
Investigating Judge Duch Kimsan summoned the SRP president for alleging on April 17, 2008, that Mr Namhong was implicated in Khmer Rouge era crimes, according to a copy of the summons, dated Sept 9 but obtained yesterday. Mr Rainsy made the disputed comments at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center.
The summons came after a May 20 decision by a Paris appeal court in a separate but related case. The French court found that Mr Rainsy and his publisher had defamed the foreign minister in the SRP leader’s 2008 memoirs, “Rooted in Stone,” which accused Mr Namhong of collaborating with the Khmer Rouge.
In his Cambodian lawsuit against Mr Rainsy, Mr Namhong has demanded 10 million riel, or about $2,380, in compensation but has also said he will drop the charges if Mr Rainsy publicly apologizes.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Mr Rainsy’s current lawyer, Choung Choungy, said he was aware of the summons but needed to talk with his client before he could comment.
“I have seen the summons, but I need to discuss further with my client and his party,” Mr Choungy said.
SRP lawmaker and party spokesman Yim Sovann said he was not surprised by the summons.
“I do not care about the court summons, which is issued again and again, because it is just the political issue,” Mr Sovann said. “The issue should be resolved internally and by political reconciliation.”
Mr Rainsy, who is abroad, has been sentenced to two years in prison for uprooting temporary border posts at the Cambodia-Vietnam border last year.
He faces the possibility of a further 18 years in jail if found guilty by Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday of creating false public documents and disseminating false information on the Internet.