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Two tried over alleged defamation

A press officer from the Ministry of Information and the ex-wife of an army lieutenant general were yesterday tried on charges of allegedly defaming ruling party Senator Keo Mally with Facebook posts suggesting she had a romantic liaison with the general.

According to Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Mong Mony Sorphea, Prum San and Mom Manuth published “false and defamatory information” in July when the pair collaborated in a post querying whether the Cambodian People’s Party senator and tycoon had become yet another of Lieutenant General Seak Socheath’s purported bevy of mistresses.

“Can [Mally] become the fourth madam of [Socheath]?” read San’s comment accompanying a photo of the pair. “And if she is, can this be more adultery? Because [Socheath] still has a legal marriage with his wife, valid since 2009.”

Manuth, who divorced Socheath in August, admitted to encouraging San to post the content after seeing a photo online of the widowed senator and RCAF deputy chief of staff “sitting very close” at a ceremony. However, both denied they had defamed Mally’s honour.

“I gave this information to San because I wanted every woman to be warned about my husband, who is a man who likes dealing in girls,” she said.

San requested the charges be dropped, arguing that his use of speculative question marks exempted the statements from being defamatory. “A conditional sentence is not a burden or accusation,” he said. “If my writing is not true, she can suggest a correction.”

Mally’s lawyer, Theng Meng, denied any romantic relationship, and said he was seeking $50,000 from San and $100,000 from Manuth in damages.

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