PHNOM PENH, Nov. 17 (FN) — A Cambodian court on Thursday sentenced, in absentia, former opposition senator Thak Lany to one and a half years in prison for incitement and defamation, according to a verdict.
Lany, 61, was charged with incitement and defamation after she allegedly accused Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen in July of having prominent political analyst Kem Ley murdered.
Hun Sen sued her on Aug. 1 and a month later, her parliamentary immunity was removed by the Senate to pave the way for the court to prosecute her.
"After examining documents and evidence, the court decides to sentence Thak Lany to one and a half years in prison for inciting to cause turmoil for social security and to fine her 8 million riel (2,000 U.S. dollars)," said the verdict pronounced by Phnom Penh Municipal Court presiding judge Y Thavrak.
The court also ordered Lany to pay 100 riel (2.5 U.S. cents) in compensation to Hun Sen upon his request.
In addition, the court issued an arrest warrant for the former senator.
Currently, Lany's whereabouts is unknown as it is believed that she had fled the country a day before the prime minister filed the lawsuit.
Hun Sen also filed a similar complaint against Sam Rainsy, leader-in-exile of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, for claiming that the government was behind the murder of Kem Ley.
Kem Ley, 46, was shot dead at a mini-mart in Phnom Penh on July 10 when he was drinking a coffee. A suspect was arrested soon after the murder and he confessed to the crime, claiming that he got furious with Kem Ley, who owed him 3,000 U.S. dollars, but failed to pay him back.