Pro-government media personality Soy Sopheap yesterday offered to make a public apology, promising to retract on-air statements accusing the late former Premier Son Sann of selling land near Preah Vihear temple to Thailand.
Mr Sopheap made the remarks outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after being questioned as a result of a defamation lawsuit brought this month by Son Soubert, Son Sann’s son.
Mr Sopheap, director of Deum Ampil News and a presenter on Bayon TV, apologized in front of reporters to Mr Soubert.
“I, Soy Sopheap, make a public apology to Son Soubert, who sued me. I thank him and I will correct” the remarks, Mr Sopheap said. “I recognize that it was my misunderstanding.” Mr Sopheap added that he would broadcast a retraction and apology while on Bayon TV this evening. “I am a reporter, so when someone asks for a correction, I make a correction.”
Mr Soubert had accused Mr Sopheap of defaming his late father by claiming during a broadcast on Feb 4 that Son Sann and former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan had signed a document to sell land around the temple.
Son Sann served as prime minister from 1967 to 1968 and founded the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front in 1979, which fought the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese Army during the 1980s.
Mr Soubert said yesterday that he might reconsider pursuing legal action depending on Mr Sopheap’s words during the broadcast. “If Mr Sopheap speaks on Bayon TV again, I will listen and consider whether I need to withdraw the filed complaint or not,” Mr Soubert said.
Mr Soubert said he made the legal complaint because Mr Sopheap had not fulfilled a request to withdraw statements about his father and apologize on television. “Mr Sopheap really spoke to damage my father’s reputation.”
Deputy prosecutor Ek Chheng Huot said that the court questioned Mr Sopheap yesterday over the defamation lawsuit. “The court has not charged Soy Sopheap yet. It was just questioning, but he is under investigation,” he said, declining to elaborate.