Exiled opposition MP sentenced for defaming Cambodia PM

Analyst says conviction of senator who allegedly accused PM of being behind killing of government critic ‘heavy handed’

Exiled opposition MP sentenced for defaming Cambodia PM

World Bulletin / News Desk

An opposition senator has been convicted, in absentia, of defaming Cambodia’s prime minister and sentenced to 18 months in prison after she allegedly accused the premier of being behind the assassination of a prominent government critic in July.

The Cambodia Daily reported Thursday that Thak Lany, a member of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), was found guilty of defamation and incitement, and fined $2,000 in addition to the prison sentence. A warrant was issued for her arrest.

Prime Minister Hun Sen -- who has been in power for 31 years -- laid the allegations of slander against Lany in August, citing a video that appeared online in which Lany apparently accused him of having a hand in the murder of Kem Ley, who was gunned down at a petrol station in Phnom Penh.

Lany denied the allegations and went into exile, and has not returned to Cambodia.

Her immunity from prosecution was lifted in September.

Political analyst Ou Virak told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that the conviction was “heavy handed”, coming just 10 days after her SRP senator colleague Hong Sok Hour was also imprisoned for seven years on forgery and incitement charges.

“The fact that these cases go quiet for so long and then re-emerge all point to the fact that it’s very difficult to believe that the court system can ensure equal application of the law,” Virak said, adding that the verdict also coincided with an Appeal Court decision not to bail land rights activist Tep Vanny in a separate case.

Calls for an independent investigation into the murder of Ley have essentially been ignored and his alleged killer, who fled the scene on foot and was arrested, has yet to be tried.

“The killing of Kem Ley was four months ago. The media has done its job; they went to the village of the alleged perpetrator and the victim’s family and no one seems to have been questioned by police or investigation team,” Virak said.

“It’s still a blank case.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Kasım 2016, 14:17