Sam Rainsy Summoned Over Defamation Suit

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has been summoned to court over a lawsuit filed by Prime Mini­ster Hun Sen in January accusing Sam Rainsy of defaming and in­sulting the premier, a court document stated.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Deputy Prosecutor Yet Chakriya summoned Sam Rainsy to appear for questioning on Thursday, ac­cor­ding to a court document dated Thursday, the same day the de­pu­ty prosecutor reportedly met with Hun Sen at the premier’s home.

Sam Rainsy’s lawyer Som Chandina said the opposition leader is in Beijing and will not be able to make the court appearance.

“We will ask the court to delay questioning. After Sam Rainsy comes back, he will go to the court himself,” Som Chandina said Sunday. Before he left the country last week, Sam Rainsy said he expected to return to Cambodia this week.

Hun Sen launched the lawsuit against Sam Rainsy in January, seeking $5 million in damages after the opposition leader ac­cused the CPP of being behind the Jan 22 killing of union leader Chea Vichea.

Days later, Sam Rainsy filed a countersuit against the prime minister, blaming Hun Sen for masterminding a 1997 grenade attack on a rally led by the opposition leader in Phnom Penh.

On Thursday, Yet Chakriya met Hun Sen at his home in Kan­dal province’s Takhmau district to question him about Sam Rain­sy’s countersuit, Hun Sen’s adviser Om Yentieng said last week.

The opposition criticized the meeting, saying such questioning should have occurred in court.

“When the prosecutor went to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house to question him, the prosecutor abused the law,” Som Chandina said. He added that anything Hun Sen said during the meeting should not be used in court.

Both Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy are granted parliamentary immunity by the National Assembly.

Some observers, however, said they believe the opposition leader would have little chance of winning if the court proceeds with the lawsuits.

“The court does not have the ability and courage to deal with Hun Sen’s case,” said Thun Sa­ray, director of rights group Ad­hoc, on Sunday.

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