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Friday, December 9, 2022
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    Cambodian opposition politician loses case

    PHNOM PENH (AFP) – A prominent Cambodian opposition politician with Australian citizenship was convicted of defamation yesterday for criticising local elections in which strongman leader Hun Sen’s party won a landslide victory.

    Deputy leader of the Candlelight Party Son Chhay alleged the National Election Committee was biased in favour of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

    He also claimed there were instances of vote-buying and voter intimidation.

    Both organisations denied the allegations and filed separate defamation cases against Son Chhay, a long-time ally of exiled opposition figurehead Sam Rainsy.

    Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday found him guilty of the defamation charges and ordered him to pay USD750,000 in compensation to the ruling party and a USD4,250 fine to the state.

    Government critics say the conviction is an attempt to discredit Son Chhay ahead of national elections next year.

    Vice President of Candlelight party Son Chhay in front of Phnom Penh Municipal Court. PHOTO: AFP

    Son Chhay’s lawyer Choung Chou Ngy told reporters he would appeal.

    “I see the case as politically motivated, (they want) to stop him,” he said.

    Following the hearing yesterday morning, Son Chhay said he wanted to improve the electoral system.

    “Stop intimidating, stop threatening, don’t buy votes, and don’t disturb the work of the political parties that are not in the government,” he told reporters, referring to Cambodian authorities.

    Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party won a landslide in local elections in June, taking roughly 80 per cent of seats.

    The Candlelight Party, which alleged the elections were not free and fair, managed to gain some traction, polling at 18 per cent.

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