Political analyst Kim Sok remained defiant yesterday as Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced him to 18 months in prison for defaming the ruling CPP.
Mr Sok refused to stand for the verdict before being forced to do so by guards who stuffed his mouth with a shirt to stop his interjections.
The sentence stemmed from a complaint by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who claimed Mr Sok defamed the CPP by suggesting it was behind the murder of political analyst Kem Ley.
Mr Hun Sen was also seeking $500,000 in compensation, but Presiding Judge Ky Rithy dropped the amount to about $200,000 in restitution for the CPP. Mr Sok was also fined about $2,000 to be put into the state budget.
“The claim for compensation more than this is dismissed,” said Judge Rithy. “I order the accused to be imprisoned.”
During the hearing, Mr Sok appeared without his lawyer and refused to stand for the verdict and again demanded a new hearing because his request for a new judge was denied during the trial.
However, Mr Sok was forced to stand by four prison guards to listen to the verdict, which he attempted to interrupt before having his mouth shut with a shirt.
“This hearing is just a puppet hearing,” Mr Sok managed to exclaim. “The CPP is really behind the death of Kem Ley.”
On July 10 last year, Mr Ley stopped for a coffee at a Caltex petrol station in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmorn district.
He was gunned down in broad daylight by a former soldier who claimed he carried out the murder over an unpaid debt, a claim disputed by the families of both men.
Mr Ley’s family and supporters are still demanding justice in the case, despite the alleged killer being jailed for life in March.
Mr Sok accused the CPP of being behind the murder during a Radio Free Asia interview and was arrested in February.
Mr Hun Sen’s lawyer Ky Tech said the verdict was fair because allegations that the CPP was behind Mr Ley’s murder were false.
“It is not appropriate because we have already seen justice in that case,” he said. “They have arrested the offender and convicted him already.”