Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia Daily publisher's defamation trial again deferred



Cambodia Daily publisher's defamation trial again deferred

A man reads The Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh on its last day of publication after the paper closed in 2017 over a massive tax bill. AFP
A man reads The Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh on its last day of publication after the paper closed in 2017 over a massive tax bill. AFP

Cambodia Daily publisher's defamation trial again deferred

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court again delayed a defamation trial against Cambodia Daily Deputy Publisher Deborah Krisher-Steele on Thursday, with the presiding judge saying he needed time to consider the grounds for the complaint and a defence motion to summons the government-aligned online news outlet Fresh News.

The trial, which resumed Thursday after it was postponed on March 22, is in relation to a defamation case filed by the General Department of Taxation against Krisher-Steele for alleging that the tax body had leaked a confidential document and that a $6.3 million tax bill was politically motivated.

The independent Cambodia Daily closed in September after receiving the unaudited tax bill from the tax department, which came in the midst of a government crackdown on the Cambodia National Rescue Party, NGOs and media organisations.

Presiding Judge Seng Leang said he needed time to deliberate on a defence request asking for Fresh News, which published the leaked tax document, to be summonsed in the case. After a short deliberation, Leang said he needed additional time to consider the request.

“The case is complicated to summon Fresh News,” he said. "It could affect the professionalism of the journalists and so we will discuss this later.”

The short hearing also deliberated on the grounds for the defamation complaint. The Tax Department’s legal team initially said the complaint was filed because Krisher-Steele spoke to Radio Free Asia alleging that the Tax Department had leaked the document and that it was a politically motivated case.

However, once defence lawyers Hem Sunrith and Sek Sophorn started questioning where the leak came from, Mao Samvutheary said the leaks were not the basis for the complaint.

“For the leaks we did not file a complaint on that. We filed the complaint on the defamation of the General Department of Taxation,” she said. “So we filed the complaint against her because she accused us regarding the shutting down of the Daily.”

Before the hearing was suspended, a statement from Krisher-Steele was read out in court in which she said she responded to the tax document leak only after the Tax Department itself had discussed the dispute with local media, despite being restricted by confidentiality clauses governing the department.

“I am in fact the victim in this case because GDT did not respect the Law on Taxation and violated the confidentiality of my tax document which led to the closure of my business and this untrue defamation case,” she said in the statement.

The judge has not announced when the trial will resume.

MOST VIEWED

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • Deminers unearth ancient lion statue

    Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that a statue of a lion was found by mine clearance experts while they were digging for a development project. It was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring