Friday, 27 June 2008

Cambodian minister drops defamation suit against news editor

Be a man and fight one to one in Paris court so that no more people in jail because of defamation and misinformation !

June 27th, 2008
by Sahil Nagpal

Phnom Penh - A senior Cambodian minister will withdraw a defamation complaint against an opposition newspaper editor who is also a candidate in upcoming national elections, he announced at a press conference Friday.

On June 8, Dam Sith, editor of pro-Sam Rainsy Party newspaper Moneaksekar Khmer, was arrested as he washed his car in the capital and spent a week in the notorious Prey Sar prison before Prime Minister Hun Sen intervened on his behalf.

His arrest followed a complaint by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong accusing Sith of defamation, "insult" and disinformation regarding quotes by opposition leader Sam Rainsy his paper had published.

The quotes concerned claims made by Sam Rainsy in connection with the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime which the minister said were deeply hurtful and completely untrue.

"I was a victim of the regime, not a perpetrator," he said.

He gave no reason for dropping the charges, but a board member for the Club of Cambodian Journalists said later Sith had written to Hor Namhong saying publishing the quotes had been "a mistake."

Hor Namhong said he would continue to sue Rainsy for defamation through the Paris courts. Rainsy holds a French passport.

"Some people claim the Cambodian courts are not independent, so I am taking legal action in France," he said.

Sith's arrest provoked howls of protest from human rights and media activists around the world.

His unprecedented detention on civil charges also came at a politically sensitive time, with Cambodia gearing up for national elections on July 27 which Hor Namhong's dominant Cambodian People's Party is expected to win handsomely. (dpa)


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