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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Publisher accused of defamation

Publisher accused of defamation

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090603_05.jpg

Opposition publisher to face civil and criminal charges during Municipal Court hearing today.

Photo by:

SOVANN PHILONG 

Embattled Pro-Sam Rainsy Party newspaper Khmer Machas Srok News on newsstands Tuesday.

A GOVERNMENT lawyer said Tuesday that he had filed defamation charges against the publisher of a daily Khmer-language opposition newspaper, one week after the publisher received a Municipal Court summons to answer to criminal charges filed in the same case.

Suong Chanthan said he filed the defamation charges against Hang Chakra, publisher of the Pro-Sam Rainsy Party newspaper Khmer Machas Srok News, during a May 21 meeting with prosecutor Sok Roeun, who is handling the case. The civil complaint asks for compensation totalling 10 million riels (US$2,415).

The criminal "false information" charges were filed May 11. According to the Press Law, the court may impose a fine of between 1 million riels and 5 million riels for publishing false information.

Corruption coverage

Hang Chakra told the Post Tuesday that the charges stemmed from three articles - published on April 5, April 7 and May 2 - that he said

uncovered corruption on the part of officials working under Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

Suong Chanthan declined to discuss the details of either complaint in advance of a hearing scheduled for today.

Hang Chakra said he planned to answer to both complaints at the hearing.

"In order to ensure widespread journalistic freedoms in Cambodia, I am going to the court on June 3 to answer to the charges, which are serious," he said. "I hope that the law will protect me."

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee issued a statement Tuesday in which 21 NGOs expressed concern about the charges, calling them a "threat to journalists".

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