The Supreme Court yesterday upheld an Appeal Court verdict which convicted former senator Thak Lany in absentia for accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen of ordering the assassination of political analyst Kem Ley.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Ms Lany of defamation and incitement in November 2016 and sentenced her to 18 months in jail.
The court also issued a warrant to arrest Ms Lany at the time and ordered her to pay a fine of about $2,000 and give 100 riel in symbolic compensation to the premier.
The Appeal Court upheld the municipal court’s verdict in August 2017.
Ms Lany held a public forum at her house in Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat district in July 2016 where she reportedly accused Mr Hun Sen of killing Mr Ley.
Ms Lany’s defence lawyer filed the appeal complaint to the Supreme Court, which conducted the hearing yesterday.
During the hearing, Mr Hun Sen’s lawyer Ky Tech said the accusation against Mr Hun Sen intended to slander him and incite the public to be angry with the Prime Minister and the government.
“The suspect who shot Mr Kem Ley is being jailed, but Ms Thak Lany still tried to create problems and intended to blame the Prime Minister,” he said. “So, I would like to ask the judges to consider upholding the verdict of the Appeal Court.”
Ms Lany’s defence lawyer Sam Sokong said his client’s statements were made at a political meeting with activists, not in a public forum, and so they did not incite anyone to commit a crime to cause chaos in society.
He asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Appeal Court’s verdict and send the case back to the Appeal Court for another hearing.
“This decision is very unjust for my client,” he said. “I would like to ask the judges to examine and decide to drop the charge of incitement.”
After listening to both sides, presiding judge Oeung Sieng said the excuse from Mr Sokong was baseless, adding that reports from the Rattanakiri provincial police, video clips and documents proved she actually committed the offence of incitement to cause chaos and public defamation.
“We reject the appeal complaint of Ms Thak Lany’s defence lawyer Sam Sokong, and uphold the Appeal Court’s verdict,” he said.
Ms Lany, a former senator from the Sam Rainsy Party, was sued by Mr Hun Sen’s lawyer in August 2016. She is now living in Sweden, where she has been granted political asylum.