Cambodian opposition politician Son Chhay speaks exterior the court docket in Phnom Penh on Friday – Copyright AFP STR
A distinguished Cambodian opposition politician with Australian citizenship was discovered responsible of defamation on Friday for criticizing native elections during which chief Hun Sen’s occasion received a landslide victory.
Son Chhay, deputy chief of the Candlelight Get together, alleged that the Nationwide Election Committee was biased in favor of the ruling Cambodian Folks’s Get together.
He additionally said that there have been instances of vote shopping for and voter intimidation.
Each organizations have denied the allegations and filed separate libel instances towards Son Chhay, a longtime ally of exiled opposition chief Sam Rainsy.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court docket convicted him on Friday of libel prices and ordered him to pay $750,000 in compensation to the ruling occasion and a $4,250 high quality to the state.
Authorities critics say the conviction is an try and discredit Son Chhay forward of nationwide elections subsequent 12 months.
Son Chhay’s lawyer, Choung Chou Ngy, instructed reporters that he would attraction.
“I see that the case is politically motivated, (they need) to cease it,” he mentioned.
After the listening to on Friday morning, Son Chhay mentioned that he needed to enhance the electoral system.
“Cease intimidating, cease threatening, do not buy votes and do not disrupt the work of political events that aren’t in authorities,” he instructed reporters, referring to Cambodian authorities.
Prime Minister Hun Sen’s occasion received a landslide victory in native elections in June, capturing roughly 80 p.c of the seats.
The Candlelight Get together, which claimed the election was neither free nor truthful, managed to achieve some traction, with 18 p.c within the polls.
Hun Sen, one of many world’s longest-serving leaders, has dominated Cambodia for greater than 37 years and has vowed to run for workplace once more subsequent 12 months.
In 2018, his occasion received each seat in a nationwide election.
Critics and rights teams say he has ruthlessly crushed dissent by jailing opponents and activists earlier than each election.
Australia’s ambassador to Cambodia, Pablo Kang, mentioned the diplomats attended the listening to on Friday.
“Upset, he was discovered responsible of defamation in media feedback earlier this 12 months. We proceed to name for real and free political participation within the run as much as the 2023 election,” Kang tweeted.