Commentator Kim Sok Jailed Over Defamation, Incitement Charges

Political firebrand Kim Sok was charged and imprisoned on Friday for comments he made apparently pointing the finger at the government for the murder of political analyst Kem Ley, a court spokesman said.

“The judge decided to provisionally detain charged person Kim Sok for public defamation and incitement to cause social disorder,” said Ly Sophana, a spokesman for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Kim Sok walks with supporters on Friday as he made his way from Wat Chas to the Phnom Penn Municipal Courthouse. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The second charge carries a sentence of up to two years in prison.

Mr. Hun Sen filed the $500,000 lawsuit on Monday, accusing Mr. Sok of claiming in a Radio Free Asia interview on Saturday that the ruling party had arranged the murder of popular government critic Kem Ley.

During a speech this week berating Mr. Sok, the prime minister told him not to flee and—preempting the courts—told the commentator he should prepare to spend two years in prison.

This was followed by a second lawsuit filed by the prime minister’s lawyer on Thursday, demanding 10 million riel, or about $2,500, for comments he made on Tuesday, clarifying that he believed a government-affiliated “network” was behind Kem Ley’s slaying.

The former university lecturer with a graduate degree in finance from China, who was little known until recently and has been banned from leaving the country, had walked from Wat Chas to the municipal court alongside supporters including activist monk But Buntenh. 

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