Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy, currently in exile in France, was found guilty of defamation by Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday and ordered to pay a fine of about $1 million.
Mr Rainsy said he would be able to prove the authenticity of a leaked conversation between Prime Minister Hun Sen and former CNRP turned CPP activist Thy Sovantha, in which the premier allegedly bribed Ms Sovantha to attack the opposition.
Mr Rainsy posted on social media that he welcomes the verdict, because it would give him the opportunity to reveal more facts about Mr Hun Sen.
He added the court ordered him to pay $1 million to the Prime Minister in compensation for allegedly defaming him by reposting Facebook documents showing correspondence between Mr Hun Sen and Ms Sovantha.
Mr Hun Sen allegedly offered the young CNRP activist $1 million for her to conduct activities against the opposition party in early 2017.
“I am confident we will be able to technically prove the authenticity of the leaked conversation between Hun Sen and Thy Sovantha,” Mr Rainsy said. “There are more than 400 leaked messages between the two that have been publicly exposed.”
The former opposition leader added that if someone were to fabricate a story to discredit Mr Hun Sen and Ms Sovantha, there would have been no need to create so many fake messages.
“Nobody apart from the two concerned persons would have known so many details about their relationship, which can be seen as factual proof when it comes to the schedule and detailed activities of Hun Sen,” he said.
In January 2017, Mr Hun Sen filed a defamation suit against Mr Rainsy through his lawyer Ky Tech.
During the hearing, the court played a 26-minute video of Mr Rainsy talking to Cambodian supporters in France, saying the Prime Minister had bribed Ms Sovantha.
“He bribed her to do bad things, to attack and cause trouble for the CNRP,” Mr Rainsy said. Sam Sokong, Mr Rainsy’s lawyer, said he could not accept the verdict because the accusation did not have sufficient evidence, and the claims for compensation were extremely serious.
“We need to talk with our client about his right to go to the Court of Appeal to review this decision,” he said.
Mr Rainsy has faced several lawsuits from Mr Hun Sen and from the president of the National Assembly Heng Samrin for defamation, leading to his exile in France.