[JURIST] Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy [party profile] said Monday he will seek a royal pardon from King Norodom Sihanouk [official website] rather than appeal the 18-month sentence he was given last Thursday following an in absentia conviction for two counts of defaming political leaders. Rainsy was found guilty of accusing National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh [BBC profile] of taking millions of dollars in bribes last year in exchange for forming a coalition government with the ruling party, and of accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen [BBC profile] of being involved in a 1997 grenade attack that killed 19 people at a political rally. The US State Department condemned the convictions [press release] as a violation of free speech, and Rainsy claimed [press release] that his trial was not preceded by a serious investigation. Amnesty International said [press release] that the 1992 UNTAC Criminal Law [PDF text] used to convict Rainsy has been selectively applied by prosecutors to government enemies, letting corrupt government actors go unpunished. Rainsy fled the country [JURIST report] last Feburary after the National Assembly stripped him of immunity. AFP has more.