18 Nov, PHNOM PENH- A Cambodian opposition senator was handed a 18-month jail sentence Thursday over a defamation case filed by premier Hun Sen, the latest legal move to ensnare the strongman’s rivals.
The authoritarian prime minister sued Senator Thak Lany in August over a video clip allegedly showing her accusing Hun Sen of orchestrating the killing of Kem Ley, a prominent government critic.
The activists’s brazen daylight killing murder in the capital Phnom Penh in July, sent fear rippling across civil society in a country with a history of political assassinations.
Senator Thak Lany, who is believed to have fled the country shortly after she was charged, was convicted Thursday in absentia of defamation and inciting chaos with her remarks.
“After examining documents and evidence, the court decides to sentence Thak Lany… to one year and a half in prison,” Judge Y Thavrak said at a Phnom Penh court.
A former soldier has been charged with Kem Ley’s murder but police have kept a tight lid on the details of their investigation.
Suspicions that the killing was ordered from higher up continue to simmer in a country where critics have long been silenced by the political elite.
Hun Sen, who has loomed over Cambodia for 31 years, has a history of ruthlessly undercutting his rivals and has intensified a crackdown on critics ahead of 2018 polls. (AFP)