The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has charged Candlelight Party vice-president Son Chhay with “public defamation” in a case brought by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) over his critical comments on the June 5 commune council elections.
Deputy prosecutor Plang Sophal said in an August 9 decision letter – made public on August 11 – that Chhay has been officially charged under Article 305 of the Criminal Code, for his June 7 interview with the online news outlet Cambodia Daily.
The CPP sued Chhay on June 14, demanding $1 million in compensation over his “distortion of the facts” regarding the elections.
CPP attorney Ky Tech said earlier that Chhay’s comments were acts of “intentional dishonesty”.
He said Chhay distorted the truth and created fake news, with the intent to slander the CPP.
During the interview, Chhay claimed that the elections were unfair and unjust.
“These results do not reflect the will of the people, who were intimidated. Their votes were bought and stolen. That’s why we won so few seats,” he said.
According to Sophal’s letter, Chhay denied the accusation during recent questioning. Chhay said he made the comments to protest what he called ‘irregularities’ in the period before the National Election Committee (NEC) officially announced the election results.
NEC officials have also sued Chhay for the comments, but there has been no update on the development of the case.
Chhay could not be reached for comment on August 11. But on the same day, his defence lawyer Choung Chou Ngy said he had not yet received the court documents.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said it was up to the court to decide how to proceed with the case.