Phnom Penh Municipal Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun said yesterday that SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua would not be arrested for failing to pay $2,125 in the form of a fine for defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen until the court receives $2,000 in compensation.
“I have written to the convicted person [Ms Sochua] about the court’s measures related to the fine and compensation,” Mr Roeun said. “The law allows the court to demand the compensation before the fine.”
Mr Roeun said the decision had been made in order to give the court time in retrieving the compensation owed by Ms Sochua.
Ms Sochua said on Friday that she did not expect to be arrested for nonpayment of the fine imposed on her after she was found guilty of defaming Mr Hun Sen. On Friday Ms Sochua received a letter from Investigating Judge Chea Sok Heang informing her that the compensation money will be taken directly from her parliamentary salary. Ms Sochua was, however, warned under Cambodian law on June 5 that she faced six months in prison if she refused to pay the fine.
The court’s announcement that Ms Sochua does not face imminent arrest comes amid mounting international pressure on the government.
Ms Sochua again reiterated yesterday she would not pay either the compensation or the fine to the court.
“I am the victim and I will not pay. I received the letter from the court giving the order to deduct the compensation from my salary. I do not agree,” Ms Sochua said yesterday.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, chairman of the government’s Commission on Economy, Finance, Banking and Audit, said the government could not take money out of Ms Sochua’s pay unless she had agreed.
“The standing committee did not receive the letter from the court yet. Nobody can cut a lawmakers salary unless the lawmaker agrees,” he said.
Judge Sok Heang could not be reached for comment.