Pair Convicted for Defamatory Facebook Posts

The wife of an army general and an Information Ministry official were convicted of defamation by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday over Facebook posts accusing the general of having an affair with CPP Senator Keo Maly, a claim the lawmaker has denied.

Prum San, deputy director of the Information Ministry’s information department, and Mam Manut, the wife of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Seak Socheat, were charged last month over messages and photos they posted in July.

“The court condemns Prum San and Mam Manut by fining them each 5,000,000 riel [about $1,250] for defamation committed on July 23,” Judge Mong Mony Sophea told the court.

Judge Sophea also ordered the pair to pay Ms. Maly 10,000,000 riel, or about $2,500, each in damages, without explaining the reason for the decision.

Ms. Maly, who had originally sought $500,000 in damages, welcomed the decision nonetheless and said she would forego the penalty altogether—on one condition.

“I will not demand compensation for the damage the pair has caused if they confess their guilt in public,” she said.

Mr. San said he would do no such thing.

“I will not confess because I did nothing wrong,” he said.

Mr. San, who claims to report for a local newspaper, said he would appeal the court decision for the sake of journalists nationwide.

“If I do not file a complaint with the Appeal Court, all journalists will lose lawsuits like I have when they write articles that affect any high-ranking government official,” he said.

Ms. Manut said she would not apologize either and also planned to appeal.

“I do not accept the court’s decision because I did nothing wrong,” she said. “I have nothing to confess because I just wrote on Facebook to warn Ms. Keo Maly to stay away from my husband because I was afraid she would be lured into a love affair with him.”

During the October 19 trial, Ms. Manut told the court that her husband had many mistresses and accused the court of tampering with evidence by cropping the general out of a photograph she had provided showing him with Ms. Maly.

Before the trial, Ms. Manut said she had gone to Mr. San for help in publicizing the alleged affair in the hopes of stopping her husband from divorcing her.

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