April 25, 2011
PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) -- The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday sentenced the exiled opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, in absentia to 2 years in jail and fined 2,000 U.S. dollars for public defamation and inciting discrimination, according to the verdict.
The charges were brought under the new criminal code and stem from comments that Sam Rainsy, president of the Sam Rainsy Party, made the speech on April 17, 2008, saying that the current Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, minister of foreign affairs, was formerly the chief of Boeung Trabek prison in the Khmer Rouge regime.
"Sam Rainsy's claims are groundless and incite discrimination against government officials," said the verdict read by the presiding judge Seng Neang on Monday.
"The verdict is just and brings cleanness to my client," Ka Savuth, the lawyer for Hor Namhong, told reporters after the verdict announcement.
Hor Namhong won a similar suit in France in 2008 that levied a symbolic fine of 1 euro on Sam Rainsy for comments in his autobiography "Rooted In The Stone."
Sam Rainsy, 60, who is currently living in exile in France, has already been sentenced in absentia up to 12 years in prison for vandalism after he uprooted border marks with Vietnam on October 29, 2009 and for forging public documents and disseminating false information relating to a map of the border between Cambodia and Vietnam.
He was stripped of his parliamentary seat last month as a result of the convictions.