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Court orders parliament to dock Mu Sochua’s salary

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court has informed opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua that the National Assembly has been authorised to dock her salary for two months in order to pay 8 million riels (US$1,904) in compensation to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In an order sent to the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Tuesday, Judge Chea Sok Heang said that the Assembly’s Finance and Banking Commission would be responsible for redirecting the funds to Hun Sen’s lawyers.

“The court decides to seize Mu Sochua’s salary ... of 4,204,899 riels ($1,001) per month until [the amount is] completely paid to Ky Tech, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s lawyer, as the creditor requested,” the letter said.

“Mu Sochua must not block or prohibit the officials in charge of salaries at the Assembly’s finance department from seizing the debt.”

The 8 million-riel compensation payment is part of the 16.5 million riels ($3,928) in fees Mu Sochua was told to pay after being found guilty of defaming Hun Sen in August last year. Two appeals against the verdict have since been rejected.

It is unclear whether the court can legally dock Mu Sochua’s pay without her authorisation. Earlier this week, senior Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the National Assembly could not abide by any court request to seize Mu Sochua’s salary if she did not consent to it.

“In this situation, if we cut her salary without her agreement, it is impossible,” he said. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said the court has the power to enforce the seizure of Mu Sochua’s assets or salary, but that it should not seize her entire salary for the next two months.

“The court should allow her to live easily. I think the court can do this,” he said.

Mu Sochua could not be reached yesterday, but has consistently maintained she will not assent to having her salary docked. “If my salary is taken without my agreement, it is a violation of my rights,” she said on Sunday.

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