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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer newspapers editors line up for their day in court

Khmer newspapers editors line up for their day in court

"I consider it my internship," Sereypheap Thmei (New Liberty News) publisher Hen

Vipheak wrote, in the newspaper's May 13-14 edition, of his impending court


His internship will start tomorrow, May 20, at the Municipal

Court. Vipheak is to face a government charge of misinformation for an article

he published under the headline: "Cambodia: Country of Thieves" and a cartoon

showing Second Premier Hun Sen holding a gun at the head of First Premier Prince

Norodom Ranariddh.

Vipheak said he was innocent of the charge, laid under

Article 62 of UNTAC law, because: "I believe in my [article]. I was expressing

my opinion."

"But what I'm concerned about is the absence of independence

of the court. The justice system in Cambodia has generally been recognized to be

not independent," he added.

He predicted he might face the same fate as

Chan Ratana, publisher of Samleng Yuvachun Khmer (Voice of Khmer Youth),

recently sentenced to 12 months jail.

However, in the May 13-14 issue of

his paper, Vipheak said it was his honor to be involved in the lawful solving of

a dispute between himself and the government.

That was far better than

the case of former Voice of Khmer Youth editor Non Chan, who, gunned down last

September, "was tried on the streets".

"I'm very happy!" Vipheak wrote. "

On the other hand, when I appear before the judge to face the charge by the

plaintiff from a high position [prime minister], I will be famous," he


"Both compatriots and the international community will know me.

Being a man, the more they know you, the better it is."

Meanwhile, Thun

Bunly, publisher of Udomkati Khmer (Khmer Ideal), is to stand trial today (May

19). He has been charged with defamation after publishing a cyclo driver's

letter to the editor which asked both prime ministers to stop


Bunly - whose newspaper has been suspended since last November

- has counter-sued the government for violating Article 37 of the State of

Cambodia's press law which prohibits the closure of a publication for more than

30 days.

He told the Post he was seeking $47,520 compensation from the

government for the loss to his business.

Meanwhile, Chan Ratana - whose

12 month jail sentence has been suspended until an appeal is held - said he had

yet to be given a court hearing for the appeal.

"I want to know black or

white. It's difficult for me to be a prisoner of my mind. I can't do anything

now," he complained.



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