July 27, 2009
By Tim Johnston
Cambodia's government is under fire because of its legal attack on opponents. Hang Chakra, former editor of the Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, shares a cell with 50 other convicts in Phnom Penh's notorious Prey Sar prison, serving a one-year sentence for articles that alleged corruption among government officials.
Moeung Sonn, head of the Khmer Cultural Civilisation Foundation, was last month sentenced to two years in jail in absentia for "disinformation" after suggesting a new lighting system at the Angkor Wat temple complex might damage the 600-year-old buildings.
On Friday, a court is to hand down its verdict in a case against Mu Sochua, an opposition parliamentarian accused of defamation against Hun Sen, Cambodia's prime minister. "I'm sure I will be found guilty unless there is some magic in the air - and I don't feel that there is," she said.
"The . . . government is imposing its most serious crackdown on freedom of expression in recent years," said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch.
Tim Johnston, Bangkok www.ft.com/asia