Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Equitable Cambodia defamation convictions overturned

Equitable Cambodia defamation convictions overturned

Equitable Cambodia’s Eang Vuthy visits a land dispute community in Phnom Penh in 2012.
Equitable Cambodia’s Eang Vuthy visits a land dispute community in Phnom Penh in 2012. Chhay Channyda

Equitable Cambodia defamation convictions overturned

The Appeal Court this morning overturned defamation convictions for three staffers from NGO Equitable Cambodia (EC) brought by a former employee.

EC Executive Director Eang Vuthy and staffers Chheang Phea and Phen Kimsong were found guilty of public defamation by a Phnom Penh court in August 2016 over an internal memo circulated among the three regarding the conduct of Chan Vichet, a former employee of the land rights NGO.

While EC maintained that the memo detailing Vichet’s conduct had been kept confidential, Vichet claimed it had been discussed with his co-workers, giving him grounds for the lawsuit.

Judge Nhoung Thol this morning said there was no evidence to back Vichet’s charges that the memo constituted public defamation and overturned the conviction, according to court spokesman Touch Tharith.

After the hearing, Vuthy only said he was relieved to have received a favourable verdict.

“Yes, the Appeal Court overturned the verdict. We are of course very pleased with the result and grateful to the court for delivering this decision,” he said via text message.

The three were each handed an approximately $2,000 fine and ordered to pay around $2,400 as compensation to Vichet, after a lower court found them guilty despite a prosecutor’s admission at the time that there was no evidence to back the accusations.

As an Equitable Cambodia employee, Vichet worked with local communities in land disputes related to ruling party Senator Ly Yong Phat’s firm, Phnom Penh Sugar Company, in Kampong Speu province.

Community members later alleged that Vichet had begun working on behalf of the sugar company.

Vichet, who did not go to the trial hearing claiming he had not received a summons, was also absent yesterday and said he was unaware of the verdict. Instead, he threatened to file a lawsuit against The Post.

The Phnom Penh Post has published untrue things and previously has twisted my name,” he said. “Now I am preparing complaint against The Phnom Penh Post [because it] has written untrue thing.”

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that allegations that Vichet worked on behalf of Phnom Penh Sugar Company led to his dismissal. In fact, the reasons for his dismissal have not been disclosed by Equitable Cambodia.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • PM warns party of complacency in leaked audio

    Two leaked audio tapes, purportedly of Prime Minister Hun Sen speaking candidly to senior officials, appear to hint at insecurities within the ruling party over the controversial dissolution of the country’s main opposition, with the premier warning that the party’s “struggle” didn’t

  • Government approves plan to relocate Phnom Penh’s airport

    The government has signed off on a proposal to build a new airport to serve Phnom Penh and has earmarked land in Kandal province for the $1.5 billion project. A new international airport to replace the existing Phnom Penh International Airport will be constructed on partially

  • Music festival promises big stage, has even bigger hopes

    With a line-up of local and international artists, and a massive outdoor venue booked on Koh Pich, or Diamond Island, Saturday’s Diamond Moon Festival is aiming to showcase contemporary musical and artistic talents at a scale rarely seen in the Kingdom. [img] But the