A press officer from the Ministry of Information and the ex-wife of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Seak Socheath were yesterday convicted of defamation by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for Facebook posts suggesting a romantic liaison between the general and senator and business tycoon Keo Mally.
According to judge Mong Mony Sorphea, Prum San collaborated with Mom Manuth to publish “false and defamatory information” when the former posted a picture and comment to his Facebook page questioning whether Mally had been taken on as the general’s fourth wife.
The pair have been sentenced to pay fines of 5 million riel (about $1,250) each as well 10 million riel in compensation to Mally.
Theng Meng, lawyer for the senator and general director of Crystal Rice Co, Ltd, welcomed the court’s verdict, adding that his client had no romantic relationship with Socheath.
“Regarding the compensation, Her Excellency said that if they both agreed to write her a public letter of apology, she would let them off paying damages,” he said.
However, both San and Manuth disputed the court’s decision, announcing their intention to seek an appeal as well as intervention by the Cambodian Journalists’ Association.
At trial, San maintained that his comments weren’t defamatory statements “because the majority of the phrases had question marks”.