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Cambodia court finds opposition lawmaker guilty of defaming PM

[JURIST] A Cambodian court ruled Tuesday that opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua [personal website] is guilty of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen [official profile; BBC profile], ordering her to pay nearly USD $4000 in fines and restitution. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court found [AP report] that Sochua, a member of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party [party website], had defamed Hun Sen when she sued him last year, alleging he had made defamatory statements about her and insulted all Cambodian women. That suit was dismissed. Rights groups allege that the lawsuit was politically motivated in attempt to silence opposition. On Monday, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) [advocacy website] issued a statement [text] claiming, "the chances of Mu Sochua getting a fair trial are very remote." After Tuesday's verdict was announced, protesters took to the streets [AFP report] along with Sochua and opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

Sochua, a prominent human rights activist, was originally a member [VOA] of Hun Sen's cabinet, but later left the government and joined Rainsy's opposition party. She has been recognized internationally for her work, which deals mainly with women's rights and human trafficking, being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Last month, Sochua was stripped of her parliamentary immunity [Al Jazeera report] and lost her seat in parliament.

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