The Supreme Court yesterday overturned a defamation conviction against former Adhoc official Ny Chakrya and ordered the Court of Appeal to conduct a retrial.
The Court of Appeal had earlier upheld a Phnom Penh Municipal Court decision to convict Mr Chakrya for defaming two Siem Reap Provincial Court officials, whom he accused of corruption.
Presiding Judge Kong Srim yesterday said the decision to uphold the Phnom Penh Municipal Court verdict was incorrect and lacked proper evidence. Judge Srim said that the Court of Appeal must conduct the retrial.
“The Supreme Court decided to overturn the verdict of the Court of Appeal as it was made incorrectly and failed to verify Ny Chakrya’s speeches and comments in media publications,” Judge Srim said.
In 2015, Mr Chakrya was sued by Siem Reap provincial Judge Ky Rithy and deputy prosecutor Sok Keo Bandith over statements made in the media accusing the men of wrongfully detaining two citizens locked in a land dispute. Mr Chakrya also accused the court officials of plotting to grab the villagers’ land.
Sam Sokong, Mr Chakrya’s defence lawyer, applauded the Supreme Court decision yesterday.
“We congratulate the Supreme Court for providing justice because my client did not commit the offence as accused,” Mr Sokong said. “We will submit more evidence to show the court that he is innocent.”
Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager with rights group Licadho, said that he welcomed the Supreme Court decision.
“We appreciate that the Supreme Court has provided justice,” Mr Sam Ath said.
Soeng Sen Karuna, senior monitor with rights group Adhoc, said that it was a rare decision.
“It’s rare that we see such a decision because the Supreme Court always upholds the decision of lower courts,” Mr Sen Karuna said. “We appreciate what the Supreme Court decided.”
Judge Rithy and Mr Bandith declined to comment yesterday.