A Cambodian court on Tuesday convicted an outspoken opposition legislator of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen, despite complaints from rights groups that the lawsuit was aimed at silencing critics.
During a closed door hearing, Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Sem Sakola found lawmaker Mu Sochua guilty and ordered her to pay USD 2,000 to the state and another USD 1,882 in compensation to Hun Sen.
Mu Sochua said the ruling showed the courts were at the mercy of powerful politicians, an allusion to Hun Sen who dominates the country's political scene.
"I do not accept the ruling of the court," Mu Sochua said before marching with supporters three kilometers to the headquarters her Sam Rainsy Party. "I am a victim in the case. I will continue the fight until justice is provided to me."
Outside the court, about 100 supporters of Mu Sochua clashed with police, with witnesses telling reporters that several were beaten with batons and kicked. No one was seriously injured.
Cambodian rights group LICADHO condemned the conviction, noting that Mu Sochua had no legal representation and the public was barred from the hearing. They also criticized police for arresting two of her supporters and "repeatedly trying to drag away participants" from a peaceful march.