Opposition politicians lose lèse majesté case Court orders to pay Hun Sen party more than $700,000

AFP – A Cambodian opposition politician has been found guilty of defamation for criticizing local elections won by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s political party in a landslide victory.

Son Chai, deputy leader of the Sangthian Party Allegations that the National Election Commission sided with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. It also made claims of vote-buying and intimidation of voters.

The two organizations denied the allegations and separately filed a defamation lawsuit against Son Chai, a longtime ally of exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

The Phnom Penh court said Son Chai was guilty of defamation and ordered him to pay $750,000 in compensation to the Cambodian People’s Party. and paid the state a fine of $4,250.

Government critics said the verdict was an attempt to discredit Son Chai ahead of next year’s national elections. Son Chai’s lawyer told reporters he would appeal the verdict.

“I think this case is politically motivated. They want to stop him,” the lawyer said.

After the trial on Friday morning, Son Chai said he wanted to improve the electoral system.

“Stop intimidating, stop harassing, don’t buy votes and don’t hinder the work of non-government political parties,” Son Chai told reporters.

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party won a landslide victory in local elections in June. It won about 80% of the seats. about 18% of seats

Hun Sen, one of the longest serving leaders in the world. He ruled Cambodia for more than 37 years and has pledged to run for prime minister. for another period next year

In 2018, Hun Sen’s party won all seats in the national elections.

Critics and human rights groups say he has cracked down on dissent by imprisoning opponents and activists ahead of the election.

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