Mu Sochua, SRP Divided Over Payment of Fine

SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua was seemingly at odds with her own party yesterday over the payment of a fine and compensation order stemming from her recently upheld conviction for defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen last year.

Acting SRP spokesman Kim Sourphirith said yesterday that the party planned to pay a court-ordered fine of 8.5 million riel, or about $2,100, and 8 million riel in compensation on behalf of Ms Sochua, who has long stated that she would rather go to jail than pay the money.

“We didn’t want there to be tension within the political party and the supporters asked us to end this case by paying the fine and compensation,” he said. “Even though we plan to pay, Ms Sochua still wins from this issue” by showing that the court system is not fair, he added.

“It is her personal issue, but she is an SRP member. She works for the SRP and she will also respect what the SRP decides.”

However, Ms Sochua said yesterday that nobody could pay the fine required to be paid to the municipal treasury department by July 4 without her authorization and that she did not want anyone to pay the fine or compensation on her behalf.

On June 2, the Supreme Court upheld the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s August verdict, which found that Ms Sochua had defamed Mr Hun Sen in April in her remarks at a press conference where she announced that she planned to sue the premier for defamation. The Supreme Court also upheld the lower court’s decision to order Ms Sochua to pay both a fine as well as damages to Mr Hun Sen.

“My stance is very clear: I will not pay the fine,” Ms Sochua said yesterday by telephone from Manila. “Nobody can pay without my authorization.”

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday that the SRP should not pay on Ms Sochua’s behalf.

The decision “was not against the Sam Rainsy Party,” he said.

Ms Sochua, who is currently overseas, said she was due to arrive back in Phnom Penh on July 5, a day after the deadline for paying her fine to the municipal treasury.


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