Alexa

Cambodian opposition MP loses defamation appeal

Cambodian opposition MP loses defamation appeal

A Cambodian court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of a prominent opposition lawmaker for defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen in a case that critics charged was part of a pattern of intimidation against his opponents.
Judge Seng Sivutha of the Appeals Court let stand the ruling of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court against Mu Sochua, a member of parliament from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party. He said her action had "incited to other Cambodian women to dislike" Hun Sen.
The original case against her was one of several recent legal actions taken by Hun Sen's government against its critics in the opposition and the press.
"The Court's decision confirms that there is no rule of law in Cambodia when a person dares to challenge the government," her party said in a statement.
When the case against her moved ahead in June, the New York-based group Human Rights Watch said Hun Sen had "a long history of trying to muzzle Cambodia's political opposition and undermine the independence of the legal profession."
The case against Mu Sochua was filed after she attempted to sue the prime minister for remarks he made about her, and he then countersued. In August, she was found guilty and ordered to pay a 8.5 million riel ($2,000) fine to the state and 8 million riel ($1,882) in compensation to Hun Sen.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court rejected her lawsuit in June, saying it was groundless, but moved ahead with the prime minister's countersuit.
Cambodia's Parliament, dominated by Hun Sen's ruling coalition, then stripped the immunity from prosecution of Mu Sochua and another opposition legislator who was being sued for defamation by Hun Sen and senior military officers, allowing the case to go ahead.
In June, the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia criticized the lawsuits against the lawmakers, saying they undermine the constitutional freedom of opinion and expression.
On Wednesday, Mu Sochua said that the legal proceedings were totally influenced by political manipulation, and that she would appeal to the Supreme Court.
"My trial is a political prosecution, not a real trial," she said.


Updated : 2021-03-01 12:33 GMT+08:00