Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday ordered 10 political parties, including the SRP, to pay 3 million riel (about $750) each for filing their financial activity reports late in 2006.
The Interior Ministry filed a complaint in 2007 against 16 political parties who had not filed their reports ahead of the deadline on Dec 31, 2006. The SRP submitted its report two days after the deadline, which fell on a Sunday.
Six parties named in the complaint, including Funcinpec, were cleared of the charges, Judge Sous Sam Ath said.
Mas Sarim, deputy director general of the Interior Ministry’s local administration department, praised the verdict and explained that the six cleared parties had written to the ministry to apologize and request a withdrawal of the complaint.
“It is justice for the Interior Ministry because the court found them guilty and fined them,” he said. “Six parties were released because they wrote to the Interior Ministry for pardon.”
He also said that two of the parties, Ponloeu Sereipheap and Setrey Sang Kruos Kampuchea, had been fined an additional 3 million riel each and suspended from political activity because this was their second time filing their report late. Two other parties, Kampuchea Aphyakrit and Santepheap, were ordered to disband altogether due to prolonged inactivity.
SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said that the verdict was unfair and politically motivated. “We submitted our report two days after the deadline and it was accepted by the ministry. It is unfair that they then filed a complaint. It is ridiculous.” Mr Sovann said that the ruling reflected badly on the Cambodian judicial system and showed it to be a “political tool of the main party.”
Mr Sovann said the SRP would consider filing an appeal.
Judge Sam Ath said the money collected from the fines would go into the national budget, and all parties would have one month from the date of the verdict to appeal.
(Additional reporting by Alice Burke)