A Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge is considering libel action against an opposition newspaper which accused him of corruption for not interceding in a dispute between a health clinic and a gas station.
According to Phnom Penh Chief Prosecutor Uk Savuth, Judge Nop Sophon is weighing whether or not to file a complaint against Samleng Yuvachon Khmer (the Voice of Khmer Youth) after the paper accused Non Sophon of turning a blind eye to corruption.
The Voice of Khmer Youth ran an article Aug 30 saying the judge was “dizzy over dollars” in a case involving a Caltex petroleum company gas station manager whose workers demolished a disputed health care building. The paper said the judge should have issued an injunction preventing the demolition while the case was pending.
Ou Sovann, The Voice of Khmer Youth’s editor, accused the judge of trying to “muzzle” the paper, and repeated his allegations. The editor added, however, that it was doubtful whether the paper could successfully defend itself from any legal action brought by the high-ranking judge.
“I would be a loser, because he is a court official and could use his influence to win a case,” Ou Sovann said.
Nop Sophon could not be reached for comment Sunday, but news reports have stated the judge is considering suing the Voice of Khmer Youth for 100 million riel (about $28,200) in damages and compensation.
No official complaint had been filed as of Sunday afternoon, Uk Savuth said.