March 26, 2023

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France: Investigation of Cambodian dissident Sam Rainsy opened after Hun Sen’s complaint

France: Investigation of Cambodian dissident Sam Rainsy opened after Hun Sen’s complaint

Cambodian arch-enemy Sam Rainsy, exiled in France and facing defamation charges filed by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, began in Paris on Thursday.

The trial began at 2.30pm local time (12.30pm GMT). The hearing is expected to last a day, and a verdict will be postponed. For his comments on Facebook in June 2019, Mr. Rainsy has been sued.

Sam Rainsy, 73, co-founder of the National Salvation Party of Cambodia (PSNC), the main opposition party, long fought against Hun Sen, who was in power in Cambodia for 37 years – before he was exiled to France. Lived since 2015.

French citizen Mr. Rainsy has already been the subject of several trials in Cambodia, where he says he is being prosecuted for political reasons.

In 2019, he tried in vain to return to Cambodia, which authorities deemed “an attempted coup”.

Arriving in court on Thursday, surrounded by supporters, the opponent, wearing a suit with a tie and thin glasses, told AFP he expected “real justice” from the French judge.

In the courtroom, many from the Cambodian diaspora had come to watch the trial.

According to a complaint filed in Paris, Sam Rainsy accused Hun Sen of being behind the 2008 death of Cambodian National Police chief Commissioner Hoc Lundy – killed when his helicopter crashed.

On November 09, 2008, Hun Sen Hok Lundy was assassinated by a bomb placed inside a helicopter that exploded during his flight in Swe Rieng Province. Rainsy said on Facebook.

– “Political Struggle” –

Another defamation complaint filed by Dy Vichea was Mr. Rainsy was arraigned on Thursday. Hoc Lundy’s son, Dy Vichea is the Deputy Commissioner General of the Cambodian National Police and the nephew of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

When contacted by AFP on Wednesday, Luc Brossolet, one of Hun Sen and Dy Vichea’s lawyers, said they were waiting for “the court to rule that the comments involved and criticized are defamatory”.

For her part, Sam Rainsy’s lawyer Jessica Finnell told AFP, “I expect Sam Rainsy to recognize the crimes committed by Hun Sen in the general interest of Sam Rainsy. State dictatorship”.

“Sam Rainsy was tormented by Han Chen for thirty years. His freedom of expression is the only weapon left to him to denounce what political opponents and human rights defenders are suffering in Cambodia and to bear witness to what he has experienced,” he added.

“Sam Rainsy is a victim of the proliferation of practices in his country, and the regime is trying to seduce him,” said Mr. Matthias Cichbordich, Rainsy’s lawyer, told AFP on Wednesday. “We expect this hearing to vindicate Sam Rainsy’s right to express his political protest,” he said.

The PSNC made a breakthrough in the 2013 elections before disbanding four years later.

Since the 2018 legislative elections, after Hun Sen’s party won all seats in parliament, the results have been hotly contested, and the regime has multiplied arrests and crackdowns against any dissenting voice.

In June, during a mass hearing, dozens of opposition figures accused Mr. Rainsy and others were declared guilty. The sentence was in addition to the 25 and 10 years he was already given for trying to topple the prime minister.

Cambodia’s next election is scheduled for July.

Hun Sen will run for the new post. He wants his eldest son, Hun Manet, a general trained in Britain and America, to one day take over, but has not given a date for this potential successor.

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