Court Gives Mu Sochua 10 Days To Pay Premier

SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua has been given 10 days to pay Prime Minister Hun Sen nearly $2,000 in compensation for defaming him last year, according to an order signed by Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday.

The order, which was delivered to one of Ms Sochua’s aides by a court official yesterday, says that the opposition lawmaker must make the payment at the municipal court to compensate Mr Hun Sen within 10 days.

“In case Ms Sochua does not abide by the…notice, the court will act according to the law,” the order said.

Ms Sochua was found guilty of defaming Mr Hun Sen by the municipal court last August, over remarks she made at an April press conference where she announced her intention to sue the premier, who she said had referred to her in derogatory terms.

The Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have since upheld the lower court’s original decision—including an order to pay an 8.5 million riel (about $1,990) fine and 8 million riel (about $1,872) in compensation to Mr Hun Sen.

On June 20, Ms Sochua received a letter from the municipal treasury department—the authority charged with collecting the court fine—requesting she pay the fine within two weeks.

The SRP lawmaker, who says she will not pay the fine or compensation, will return from an overseas trip on Monday, a day after the fine is due.

As a civil party, by law, Mr Hun Sen or his lawyer must show that they have exhausted all means of retrieving the money from Ms Sochua—including the seizure of property—before the court can send her to jail to serve time in lieu of payment.

Ms Sochua said yesterday in an e-mail that she was aware the municipal court had demanded she pay Mr Hun Sen.

“The court can do whatever,” she wrote, adding that the SRP supported her decision not to pay the fine or compensation.

“I go back to my normal life, [to] my role as an elected representative of the people. The police know where I live…. Until justice is delivered, I will not accept to abide by the order of the court.”

Mr Hun Sen’s lawyer Ky Tech could not be reached by telephone yesterday.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday that Ms Sochua should accept her responsibility as a parliamentarian and pay the fine and compensation.

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