PHNOM Penh Municipal Court has authorised the National Assembly to withhold Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua’s salary to pay an 8.5 million-riel (US$2,023) fine levied against her for defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen.
In a citation dated Tuesday and signed by Judge Chea Sok Heang, the court said the parliament’s financial department would withhold her monthly salary of 4,204,899 riels until the full amount was recovered. It said the docking of her pay did not require her consent.
“Mu Sochua must not block or prohibit an official in charge of salaries at the financial department of the parliament from seizing the debt. The president of the financial department of the parliament must carry out the above decision,” the citation read.
In July last year, Phnom Penh Municipal Court convicted Mu Sochua of defaming Hun Sen after she filed her own defamation lawsuit against him. The conviction has been upheld on two appeals since.
Last month, the court authorised parliament to withhold an additional 8 million riels in compensation that she owed the premier.
When contacted yesterday, Mu Sochua said she had never agreed to pay the fine, and that docking it from her salary was a violation of her rights.
“This court system is an unclear system and it is a political tool,” she said.
She described the docking of her pay as a form of “force” and “intimidation”, but said she would live to fight another day.
“My political life will be alive until the end of my life. This injustice makes me want to continue my politics,” she said.
Cheam Yeap, a senior lawmaker for the Cambodian People’s Party, said he had not seen the court citation, but that Mu Sochua’s pay would be docked once the parliament’s Permanent Committee met to approve the decision.