The Appeal Court yesterday upheld an 18-month prison sentence against former opposition Senator Thak Lany for allegedly accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen of being behind the murder of political analyst Kem Ley last year.
The ex-Sam Rainsy Party senator, who has since been granted asylum in Sweden, was sentenced in absentia by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last November following a complaint by the premier accusing her of “defamation” and “incitement to cause chaos”.
“The case of Thak Lany has been heard in absentia on August 10, because the defence lawyer was present. The court decided to uphold the verdict of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court,” said presiding Judge Plong Samnang without providing further reasoning.
However, neither the accused nor her defence lawyer, Sam Sokong, were present at the August 10 hearing, according to Samnang.
The complaint stems from a recording of a speech, uploaded to Facebook, Lany gave in Ratanakkiri province last year, in which she said that Kem Ley’s death was planned by Hun Sen – a video she says was doctored.
The prime minister’s lawyer, Ky Tech, yesterday declined to comment. Defence lawyer Sokong, who attended the verdict announcement, said the judgment was “unacceptable” for him and his client. “The decision is not favourable for Her Excellency, as it serious affects her job,” he said, adding that she had the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.