Mu Sochua Flies to US Armed With Obama Petition

SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua flew to the US last night, carrying with her a petition asking for US President Barack Obama to condemn the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a decision that she defamed Prime Minister Hun Sen last year.

Her departure coincided yesterday with news that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court had written to the National Treasury, asking the body to demand payment of the 8.5 million riel (about $2,023) fine that Ms Sochua was ordered to pay as part of her conviction.

Ms Sochua, who was initially convicted of defamation by the municipal court last August-for announcing that she planned to sue Mr Hun Sen for defamation-had originally planned to send the petition to her White House contact electronically.

Yesterday, however, she said that she would deliver it in person to her White House contact when she meets with them at the world premiere of the documentary film “Redlight” in New York next week.

“Redlight” partly examines Ms Sochua’s role in fighting against the “sexploitation” of Cambodian women and children. A US Congresswoman and several high-profile members of the entertainment and fashion industries will attend the film premiere.

“We now have more than 2,000 signatures from inside Cambodia and from all around the world,” Ms Sochua said. “The world’s eyes are on this petition. Whether President Obama does something about it, or not, the word is definitely out.”

Sok Roeun, deputy prosecutor at the municipal court, said yesterday that the court had written to the National Treasury asking them to demand the court-ordered fine from Ms Sochua.

According to the Criminal Procedures Code, “the collection of fines and proceeding taxes shall be done by treasury agents under the supervision of the competent prosecutor.” The law states that the collected fine is then transferred to the national budget.

“I have written to the National Treasury this week to tell [them] to continue the court procedure to demand the fine from Mu Sochua,” Mr Roeun said by telephone yesterday, adding that he did not know what action the treasury would take to redeem the money.

National Treasury Director-General Ngin Khorn could not be contacted by telephone yesterday.

Ms Sochua has repeatedly said that she will not pay the fine, nor the 8 million riel (about $1,904) that she has been ordered to pay as compensation to Mr Hun Sen.

Mr Roeun said the municipal court prosecutor had the right to take action to make Ms Sochua pay the compensation to Mr Hun Sen.

“The municipal court prosecutor has the right to order Mu Sochua to pay the rest of the money to the civil party,” he said.

Ms Sochua said yesterday that she had not yet received any demands to pay the court-ordered fine or compensation.

“I cannot make comment on it until I see it,” she said, adding that she believed the authorities were taking special care to make sure they followed correct court procedures in her case.


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