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Court upholds Rainsy prison term

May Titthara / Khmer Times Share:
Sam Rainsy remains in exile and maintains his comments are true. KT/Mai Vireak

The Court of Appeal yesterday upheld the lower court’s sentencing former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy to 20 months in jail for defamation and incitement for accusing the ruling CPP of murdering political analyst Kem Ley.

The appeal court moved forward with its hearing yesterday despite the absence of Mr Rainsy, who remains in exile in France to avoid prison on multiple convictions.

During the hearing, which was also not attended by Mr Rainsy’s lawyer, a slideshow of video footage and audio recordings of Mr Rainsy were played, the footage that led the lower court to convict him.

In March, Mr Rainsy was sentenced to the 20-month term and a fine of 10 million riel, or about $2,500, in addition to a symbolic request from Prime Minister Hun Sen for compensation of 100 riel.

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 Rainsy could not be reached for comment, but told local media that he maintained his accusations.

“I am not going to file a complaint to the Supreme Court, but I still keep my accusation that Mr Hun Sen is behind the killing, and thousands of Khmer citizens think the same as me,” he said.

Mr Hun Sen’s lawyer Ky Tech said after the hearing that the verdict provided justice.

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