Prominent television personality Soy Sopheap was summoned to Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday to clarify defamation accusations alleged by Son Soubert, a political analyst and former member of the Constitutional Council.
Ek Chheng Huot, deputy prosecutor at the Municipal Court, said yesterday that Soy Sopheap, director of Deum Ampil News and a presenter for Bayon TV, faced a complaint by Son Soubert on February 4 over accusations of defamation stemming from comments suggesting that Son Sann – Son Soubert’s father and former prime minister – sold land located near Preah Vihear temple to Thailand in the 1980s.
“Soy Sopheap was accused with defamation of Samdech Son Sann who is the father of His Excellency Son Soubert. He has already appeared in court and clarified about his accusations yesterday and I have not decided whether he will be charged or not yet,” Ek Chheng Hout said yesterday.
Soy Sopheap said in court that he was confused and had made a mistake in his political commentary regarding Son Sann and had pleaded for a pardon from Son Soubert with regard to the comments. He said he had also made a correction publicly on Bayon TV shortly after the incident.
“I am responsible about what I had said related to Samdech Son Sann, and I have also recognised that I had been confused about this. I hope that the court will not take any legal action against me because I have begged for a pardon from Son Soubert already,” he said, adding that he plans to publicly beg for a pardon and reiterate his corrections on Bayon Television tonight.
“There is a culture of responsibility for journalists when they have made mistakes [in publications] and it is also in the press law,” he said.
Son Soubert claimed in court yesterday that Soy Sopheap had not yet pleaded with him for a pardon regarding his political commentary against his father, except for praising his father’s courage.
“I think that Soy Sopheap’s accusation was very bad for my father’s reputation ... so I could not accept his words that just praised my father’s heroism but did not withdraw his wrongful commentary against him.”
He added that he will consider withdrawing his complaint against Soy Sopheap if he accepts that he had made a mistake, makes a correction and condemns his previous characterisations of Son Sann.