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Hun Manet: Legal case against me was driven by political motives

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KT/CHOR SOKUNTHEA

KT: The court case against you in the United States appears to have fallen apart. What was your reaction to this, when you heard it was thrown out of court? 
 
 
Hun Manet: The decision of the court to drop the case does not come as a surprise to me. As I stated to the media when I returned from my trip overseas, this case has no grounds and it was done purely on political motives. I have done nothing wrong and I have nothing to hide. 
 
 
 
KT: Have you consid- ered a countersuit against the people who instigated this case against you? 
 
 
 
Hun Manet: By law, I have the opportunity to do so but in this case I don’t think it is necessary for me. In this case, it is not my intention to countersue. 
 
 
 
KT: Do you still plan to travel to the United States after this case? 
 
 
 
Hun Manet: Sure. Not only the US. I will go to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe – countries that have Cambodians living there. I’m not going to pick a fight nor am I going to cause any trouble. I am going to meet with my compatriots in the spirit of Khmer unity. 
 
 
 
I am going there to share information with Cambodian people who live abroad who want to know exactly what’s going on in the country, what is the development of the country, what are the issues concerned and how the government is dealing with them. The planned schedule for future trips has not changed. 
 
 
 
KT: Do you think whether there was any substance in the claims made by this person who is a dual citizen and is currently facing prison time in Cambodia? Was it an attempt to smear your name among the Cambodian community in the United States? 
 
 
 
Hun Manet: As I said in the beginning, this case has no legal grounds. It was done mainly with political motives. The case was lodged against me, as an individual, and also against the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia – which is defined as the whole country. 
 
 
 
On a legal basis, the US possible motives for this. One is because I am my father’s son and the other is that I am holding a position in the RCAF (Royal Cambodian Armed Forces) as a deputy joint chief of staff. 
 
 
 
If it was the first motive – for me to be sued because I am my father’s son is clearly politics. And it is the dirtiest form of politics because it is aimed at the whole family. It court does not have jurisdic- tion over me as a Cambodian citizen. I have not done anything wrong or broken any law in the United States. Nor does the court have jurisdic- tion over the kingdom of Cabodia. 
 
 
 
 
On a personal level, I think there are only two is not just aimed at the politi- cian, but his whole family. In any country, you don’t do that. Second, the suit was brought against me because I am holding the position as deputy joint chief of staff at RCAF, then it doesn’t make sense. There are over 100 people in the RCAF who hold equivalent positions or higher. Why was I the only one picked to be sued? 
 
 
 
If I was found guilty because I held that position, then everybody else who holds the same position or higher will be susceptible to be also found guilty. So this again doesn’t make sense. All this again is nothing but politics. 
 
 
 
KT: Some people have asked why you pursued legal action to protect yourself in this case even when you knew that the US court does not have jurisdiction over you as a Cambodian citizen. What are your comments on this? 
 
 
 
Hun Manet: Even though there is no doubt that the US court does not have jurisdiction over Cambodia or Cambodian citizens, my decision to proceed with this case are that, first, because I want to show that I have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide. 
 
 
 
Second, if I were to say or do nothing, they can just go around and create political cases, similar to this case. AndifIweretousethe Cambodian legal system, they may not accept the court ruling by complaining that the court is not fair for whatever reason. Therefore in order to prove my inno- cence and to show that this case is used as a political case and has no basis whatsoever, I chose to proceed with the legal case to defend myself against such accusations and do that in a transparent manner – and to defend myself in the US, using the US legal system. 
 
 
 
I wanted to show once and for all, to the public in a trans- parent manner, that this case and every other case like this –evenifitismadeinthe future – has no legal ground. It is just pure politics. Even the US court does not support such a lawsuit. 
 
 
 
KT: Do you think there were instigators in this attempted court action against you? 
 
 
 
 
Hun Manet: Yes, there are instigators. There are people who came up, again and again – for example, the lawyers of the plaintiff at every turn of the process made claims to try to make political scores out of this case. They went to the media and used social media. Even after the court dropped the case, they tried to interpret it for their gain. 
 
 
 
So it is politics – from the legal ground to the personal ground, there were no reasons to justify this course of action. 
 
 
 
KT: Do you think justice has been served by the US court throwing out this case? 
 
 
 
Hun Manet: The US court has followed its legal procedure and it has given all sides equal chance to present their case. In this case, the court has given the plaintiff’s side much more time to present their case as demanded before making any decision. 
 
 
 
KT: So do you think justice has been served and you have been treated fairly? This case has been dragging on for some time. 
 
 
 
Hun Manet: The US court has followed its legal procedure and given equal chance to all sides to present their respective cases. The court has dragged things a bit longer. The reason why it did that was that the plain- tiff’s lawyers kept asking for extensions time and time again so that they could present more evidence and more witnesses. 
 
 
 
I understand that the judge decided to allow that extra time for extensions because he wanted to make sure that the plaintiff’s side was satisfied. 
 
 
 
The judge didn’t want the plaintiff side to claim that they did not have time to present their cases. 
 
 
 
Now that the court has decided to drop the case and the plaintiff lost, there are no grounds to complain. 
 
 
 
KT: Do you have any hard feelings about the case considering that it has taken so long for a decision to be made? 
 
 
 
Hun Manet: No I fully understand the judge’s decision. The judge wanted to make sure that he was fair to all sides. Yes, the decision was a bit longer than expected but the outcome was not surprising. 
 
 
 
KT: What are your plans moving forward, now that this case has been dismissed? 
 
 
 
Hun Manet: I just keep doing what I have always been doing. I am engaging Cambodians inside and outside the country in the spirit of Khmer unity. 
 
 
Cambodians living overseas have the right to know what’s going on in the country and they have the right to get all the information from all sides – from the opposition parties and from the government side. 
 
 
 
This legal process has no bearing on my actions to meet Cambodians in the country and overseas. 
 
 
 
This case, I hope, will show to the public in a trans- parent manner that this action against me or any government official, in the future, will not hold. If we practice non-hate, tolerance and respect there will be no divisions in society. 
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