SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua has less than two weeks to pay a $2,000 fine that was handed down as part of her conviction for defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen last year, according to a municipal treasury department letter.
The document, signed Thursday by Phnom Penh treasury department Director Ke Bunleng, said Ms Sochua must pay the fine within two weeks of receiving the letter.
“I would like to inform Ms Mu Sochua […] that the criminal verdict dated June 2 of the Supreme Court has already come into effect,” the letter said, giving Ms Sochua two weeks to comply. “Please pay the fine of 8.5 million riel [about $2,100] to the Phnom Penh municipal treasury department in cash or transfer into” a treasury account.
By law, treasury agents are mandated to collect fines under prosecutors’ supervision. Mr Bunleng declined to comment about what action the municipal treasury department would take if Ms Sochua failed to pay the fine.
“I followed the court’s verdict with a written request asking Mu Sochua to pay the fine,” Mr Bunleng said. “I do not want to comment about any further details.”
Ms Sochua was initially convicted of defamation by Phnom Penh Municipal Court in August for the act of announcing that she planned to sue Mr Hun Sen, who she said had described her in derogatory terms.
The Supreme Court upheld the conviction on June 2, affirming both the $2,000 fine and a damages award of about $1,900 payable to Mr Hun Sen. It remained unclear yesterday when the payment of the damages could be demanded of Ms Sochua.
Ms Sochua, currently in New York for the premiere of a documentary film, wrote in an e-mail yesterday that she was perplexed as to why authorities had not asked for the full amount.
The letter “does not say how and when I will have to pay the rest of the fine,” Ms Sochua wrote. “What about the rest? Are they confused? Did the court remember how much they fined me?”
Asked a question about whether she would consider paying the court-ordered fine but not the compensation to Mr Hun Sen, Ms Sochua stood by her previous statements that she would not pay any amount.
“I am standing by the same position: I will not pay,” she wrote.
Ms Sochua is due to return on July 1.