The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday found police Lieutenant Colonel Pheng Vannak and army Brigadier General Hang Borey guilty of defamation for spreading rumours that wealthy businesswoman Keo Mally had an affair with Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Seak Socheath.
Under the ruling, both men were ordered to each pay a fine of 5 million riel, about $1,250, and to jointly pay Mally 15 million riel, about $3,750, in compensation.
The two were tried in late October, a day after Prum San, of the Ministry of Information, and Mom Manuth, Socheath’s ex-wife, were convicted of initially spreading the rumours, which both Mally and Socheath have denied.
Vannak – who is also the subject of court proceedings for allegedly threatening the life of deputy opposition chief Kem Sokha – was accused of sharing San’s post on his Facebook page, while Borey is accused of posting comments through two different accounts about the alleged affair.
In court, Borey maintained that her accounts were hacked, while Vannak admitted to reposting the comments, but denied intending to defame Mally.
Vannak yesterday lashed out at the decision and the judiciary as a whole, but said he was unsure if he would appeal.
“If they treat me, who has a high rank on his shoulder, this way, what happens to ordinary citizens?” he said to reporters after the verdict. “This is why society says the court . . . does not provide justice.”