Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Senator sentenced to 18 months for linking PM to Ley murder

Senator sentenced to 18 months for linking PM to Ley murder

Sam Sokong, lawyer for Thak Lany, talks to the media yesterday.
Sam Sokong, lawyer for Thak Lany, talks to the media yesterday. Hong Menea

Senator sentenced to 18 months for linking PM to Ley murder

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced opposition Senator Thak Lany in absentia to 18 months in prison for alleging that Prime Minister Hun Sen was behind the assassination of political analyst Kem Ley.

The ruling came as it emerged that Lany, a lawmaker for the legacy Sam Rainsy Party, is in Sweden, where she has been granted political asylum, according to her husband and a colleague.

At court yesterday, presiding judge Y Thavarak convicted Lany of incitement to cause chaos and defamation over the comments made during a speech to supporters in Ratanakkiri province on July 29 in the wake of Ley’s death.

Thavarak set an 18-month jail term, issued a warrant for Lany’s arrest and ordered her to pay a fine of 8 million riel, about $2,000, and give 100 riel in symbolic compensation to the premier.

Lany’s remarks emerged by way of a video uploaded to Facebook. During the trial, defence attorney Sam Sokong argued the footage was doctored and the senator’s comments taken out of context.

Yesterday, Sokong pledged to appeal the “unjust” sentence.

Speaking after the hearing, Lany’s husband, Chhun Bun San, said he did not believe his wife had accused Hun Sen of ordering a hit on Ley – who was gunned down by a former soldier at a Phnom Penh gas station on July 10 – because she was “not brave [enough]”.

Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy also faces defamation and incitement charges for linking the prime minister to Ley’s murder, which is widely believed a political assassination. The premier has denied involvement.

Like Rainsy, who fled to France to avoid arrest in a separate case last year, Lany has also taken refuge abroad.

Bun San yesterday said his wife received political asylum in Sweden with the help of the United Nations.

Though the UN High Commissioner for Refugees regional spokeswoman Vivian Tan yesterday said she said had no information on the case, SRP acting president Teav Vannol said that Lany, during a recent telephone conversation, confirmed she reached the Scandinavian state about three weeks ago with the help of the UN human rights agency.

He said Lany, who was warned by Hun Sen not to leave the country, had initially fled to Thailand, though said he was not aware of when and how she had left.

“There were some Cambodian people living there, so she hooked up with [them] in Bangkok and they took her to the human rights office in Thailand and then she filed for asylum there,” Vannol said.

Now in Sweden, he said Lany was taking language lessons and being supported by the Swedish government.

“She’s doing fine, she’s missing Cambodia very much and she’s lonely, because it’s only her that went to Sweden, not her husband,” Vannol said.

“She hopes that Cambodians will solve the political deadlock so she can come back home to the country.”

Reached in Sweden, Lany declined to comment. The Swedish Embassy in Phnom Penh also did not respond to an email by press time.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • NagaWorld protest part of ‘conspiracy’

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court and police held a joint-press conference on January 4 to clarify details concerning the arrest of nine former employees of the integrated resort NagaWorld and the charges brought against them, saying that the authorities had clear grounds for taking legal action.