Despite refusing to pay the fine handed to her from her recently upheld conviction for defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen last year, SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua will not face arrest when she flies into Phnom Penh this morning, an Interior Ministry spokesman said yesterday.
Ms Sochua, who has been traveling overseas for the past three weeks, was ordered to pay the roughly $1,990 fine to the Phnom Penh Municipal Treasury Department before yesterday.
Ms Sochua, however, has long stated she would rather go to jail than pay the fine or the roughly $1,875 court-ordered compensation order to Mr Hun Sen, which is due to be paid separately by July 11.
Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said yesterday that no action would be taken against Ms Sochua over the unpaid fine for another 10 days.
“For her, she has another 10 days to pay the fine,” Lt Gen Sopheak said. “If the 10 days is gone [without her paying], there will be more implementation of the law.”
Municipal Treasury Department Director Ke Bunleng confirmed yesterday that Ms Sochua had not paid the fine.
By law, if a convicted person fails to pay a court fine to the treasury department, a prosecutor is required to set a “final” deadline, providing at least an extra 10 days for payment.
If Ms Sochua has still not paid by the prosecutor’s final deadline, however, the court can imprison her for six months in lieu of payment, according to the law.
Sok Roeun, Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor, said yesterday that he could not comment on the case until the municipal treasury officials reported to him about the unpaid fine.
Ms Sochua, who has spent time in the US, Philippines and Thailand during her overseas trip, could not be contacted by telephone in Bangkok yesterday.
(Additional reporting by Mark Worley)