The country’s top court ruled on Wednesday that opposition leader Sam Rainsy had no grounds to pursue a court case against Prime Minister Hun Sen over the 1997 grenade attack on an opposition rally that left at least 15 dead and 150 wounded.
Supreme Court Judge Khim Pon said that reports, including one by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and subsequent news articles, suggesting that the 1997 grenade attack could be linked to forces loyal to Hun Sen, were unfounded.
Reading aloud the results of the ruling, Khim Pon said that the reports “contained no documents, information proving that Samdech Hun Sen was an accomplice,” and that no witnesses ever identified the three attackers.
Khim Pon also said that only Sam Rainsy’s bodyguards maintained that the three men seen running toward Wat Botum after the grenade attack were allegedly wearing the uniform of Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit.
He added that “amongst about 500 demonstrators, only about 100 demonstrators were injured and killed at the scene. About 400, not only the three men, ran away from the scene.”
The ruling of the Supreme Court, which heard the case because Sam Rainsy’s lawyer appealed to them to overturn the decisions of two lower courts’ that had refused to take up the matter, denies Sam Rainsy’s lawyer the opportunity to return the case to the Appeals Court.
Hun Sen’s lawyer Ka Savuth, who alleged last week that Sam Rainsy was behind the attack, expressed his satisfaction with the ruling.
“This is the right decision,” he told reporters.
Sam Rainsy’s lawyer, Som Chandina, said: “The verdict is not acceptable. It reflects that police, prosecutors…ministers of Justice, [and] Interior take no responsibility.”
“Police should have arrested the three men” on the day of the attack, he said, adding that prosecutors and police should have filed a complaint then.
Sam Rainsy now faces the threat of a defamation suit from Hun Sen, he said.