Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced in-absentia former opposition leader Sam Rainsy to a total of eight years in prison for demoralising the armed forces and insulting King Norodom Sihamoni.
Mr Rainsy, who live in exile in France, called on the armed forces to disobey orders to kill civilians in 2017. He also called an election letter written by King Sihamoni as “fake or written under duress”.
Judge Ros Piseth said Mr Rainsy insulted the monarchy and incited soldiers to disobey orders.
“The court has decided to sentence defendant Sam Rainsy to four years in prison and be fined 10 million riels [about $2,500],” Judge Piseth said. “I order police to arrest and imprison him.”
He also sentenced Mr Rainsy to four years in prison for insulting King Sihamoni for calling the royal election letter fake or written under duress prior to last year’s general election.
Mr Rainsy, who is a fierce government critic, is currently facing a slew of legal troubles in the Kingdom.
Last year, he was found guilty of defamation by the same court and ordered to pay $1 million to Prime Minister Hun Sen for alleging that social media influencer Thy Sovantha was bribed to switch allegiance to the CPP from the CNRP.
Mr Rainsy was also found guilty of defaming National Assembly president Heng Samrin, in which Mr Rainsy was ordered to pay $37,500 in compensation.
Vong Pheakdey, a lawyer for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, yesterday said he welcomes the conviction of Mr Rainsy.
“Yes, it is justice provided to my client and I can accept this decision,” Mr Pheakdey said, before declining to comment further.
Sam Sokong, Mr Rainsy’s lawyer, said the verdict was an injustice to his client.
“I can’t accept it because this is injustice, and I will discuss with my client whether he wants to appeal to the Court of Appeal,” Mr Sokong said. “My client just wanted military personnel to refrain from using violence on citizens who have a right to advocacy. He did not demoralised the army.”