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TV commentator sued for defamation after Preah Vihear remark

TV commentator sued for defamation after Preah Vihear remark

Khmer Civilisation Foundation president, Moeung Sonn, says suit against Soy Sopheap made over on-air comment that damaged his reputation

PRESIDENT of the Khmer Civilisation Foundation (KCF), Moeung Sonn, on Monday filed suit against a Cambodian Television Network commentator for defamation and provocation in remarks that appeared in print and on air.

Moeung Sonn said his lawyer had sent a complaint to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday against commentator Soy Sopheap for a statement that was made on television and subsequently published in the newspaper Deum Ampil that he said damaged his reputation.

"I asked the court to proceed with the case in accordance with the law," Moeung Sonn said. "And I asked for 400 riels [US$0.10] in damage compensation."

KCF represents residents near Preah Vihear seeking restitution from Thai authorities for the destruction of a market by Thai forces during a border skirmish in April.

The lawsuit stems from a comment Soy Sopheap made suggesting that government officials were displeased with restitution efforts on behalf of the Preah Vihear residents.

More than 300 families were left homeless in the aftermath of the clash that resulted in the market's destruction.

"I just want justice done," Moeung Sonn said.

Soy Sopheap said his comment did not specify any particular name and that his newspaper had already published a clarification letter from Moeung Sonn last week.

"I welcome the lawsuit," Soy Sopheap said.

In late April, KCF set the cost of damgages to the Preah Vihear market at $1.2 million.

However, the group submitted a request for restitution of $9.2 million, in compensation for the loss of property and businesses, as well as for mental health issues.

Last week, Thailand's foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, confirmed that the Thai government was in the process of reviewing the compensation request.

"I have already received the diplomatic notice from Cambodia and ordered involved institutions to investigate on this issue," he told reporters Thursday.

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