Cambodian opposition leader hits back after conviction

Defends Facebook post for which he was convicted and ordered to pay $40,000 in fines and compensation

Cambodian opposition leader hits back after conviction

World Bulletin / News Desk

Cambodia’s self-exiled opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, has defended his Facebook post that was ruled defamatory, and for which he was convicted and ordered to pay $40,000 in fines and compensation to the country’s National Assembly president, Heng Samrin.

Samrin had taken exception to the post, made last November, which featured video clips of the late king, Norodom Sihanouk, talking about the regime installed after the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

That regime, the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, was led by Samrin.

The accompanying text that Rainsy posted with the video said the regime had wanted Sihanouk dead.

Samrin sued, and Rainsy was convicted after a short deliberation at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday. He is currently in exile to avoid a separate defamation conviction, and was also not legally represented in court.

Rainsy said the very nature of establishing a republic usually follows the abolition of a monarchy.

“When the new authorities formed after January 7, 1979 proclaimed their ‘People’s Republic of Kampuchea,’ they did express their intention to eliminate former King Norodom Sihanouk from the political scene,” Rainsy wrote.

“Even though they did not call for a physical elimination associated with a death sentence… they really wanted to eliminate/kill Norodom Sihanouk at least from a moral and political point of view.”

He added that he had not mentioned Samrin by name, and asked what legal grounds the latter had to sue him on behalf of the now lapsed republic.

He asked if those who were affected by the K5 Plan -- an initiative implemented by the republic to heavily mine the Cambodia/Thai border to prevent the retreat of Khmer Rouge soldiers back into Cambodia -- are able to sue, “who will designate whom to face the court and to respond to charges possibly associated with crimes against humanity? Will Heng Samrin appear again?”

He also doubled down on the supposedly offensive video by reposting it Thursday night.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan brushed off Rainsy’s latest missive, branding him “a celebrity, not a politician, who wants to make noise through the media; he’s not a leader”.

“Why is Sam Rainsy trying to go back to previous things? Nothing is happening in Cambodia right now for the time being," said Siphan.

"Everyone sat down to work together already... [Rainsy] doesn’t play much of a role as an opposition party in the context of a democracy. Why? His strategy represents the Khmer Rouge as a rebellion to destabilize the country.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Temmuz 2016, 14:55