PM Files Second Lawsuit Against Uncowed Commentator

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s lawyers slapped political commentator Kim Sok with a second lawsuit on Thursday, as Mr. Sok said he would ignore a summons to appear for questioning today and continue speaking out.

“If they want to add 100 cases, add 1,000 cases, my stance will be the same,” Mr. Sok said on Thursday outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. “If you want to take it to boiling point, let’s do it.”

Commentator Kim Sok speaks to reporters outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Mr. Hun Sen filed the first $500,000 suit on Monday, accusing Mr. Sok of claiming in a Radio Free Asia interview on Saturday that the ruling party had killed analyst Kem Ley.

The prime minister’s lawyer, Ky Tech, returned to court on Thursday to file a second lawsuit demanding 10 million riel, or about $2,500, for comments Mr. Sok made in a subsequent interview on Monday blaming a government-affiliated “network” for Kem Ley’s July murder.

“Kim Sok continues to violate the law toward the government,” Mr. Tech said. “We don’t exaggerate​ and accuse and put the blame on any individual. It is not only to the prime minister. Even for the rest of us—when someone expresses themselves, it affects us and makes us hurt.”

Mr. Sok also put in an appearance at the court on Thursday to request more time to find a pro bono attorney.

Prosecutors promptly denied the request on Thursday afternoon, according to court spokesman Ly Sophana.

Mr. Sok, who has been barred from leaving the country, said he would ignore the summons: “This case is really unjust for me, so I’ve decided not to go.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Sok denounced the court’s uncharacteristic speed in moving the case forward.

“The court took measures super-quickly by issuing a summons and ordering me to show up at court despite the fact that I only had three days to [find] a lawyer.”

Mr. Sok said the fine was farcical.

“Oh god! $500,000. Who is going to have the money to pay? Unless I have the right to sell Olympic Stadium” he said. “Then I will have the money to pay.”

“Actually, they are ready to arrest me anytime,” he added. “So, sooner or later I will be arrested, whether I go or not.”

The former university lecturers’ supporters, including dissident monk But Buntenh, started the Kim Sok Social Fund on Thursday. Mr. Sok said any funds should go toward orphanages and other causes to help the disadvantaged rather than toward paying any fines, given that a prison sentence was a foregone conclusion.

“I agreed to use my name for it because it can raise money to help people in need, but I will not use this social fund to pay for lawyers’ service or to collect money to pay Prime Minister Hun Sen’s lawsuit for $500,000,” he said.

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