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

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the