A former Adhoc official and deputy secretary-general of the National Election Committee hailed the Supreme Court’s verdict yesterday, which directed the Appeal Court to review his conviction over allegedly defamatory comments made to the media in May 2015.
In announcing the verdict yesterday, presiding judge Kong Sorim reminded Ny Chakrya that he had been sentenced by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in September 2016 to six months jail and ordered to pay a six million riel ($1,250) fine upon being found guilty of three charges – public defamation, acts of slanderous denunciation, and publication of commentaries to influence the judicial process.
The case was brought to trial after two Siem Reap Provincial Court officials – investigating judge Ky Rithy and deputy prosecutor Sok Keo Bandith – filed a complaint against Chakrya.
He was accused of public defamation, acts of slanderous defamation and putting pressure on the court’s jurisdiction after holding two press conferences where he spoke on what he characterised as the court’s illegal detention of two villagers involved in a land dispute.
“At the press conference in Siem Reap, I said the arrest was not in accordance with procedure. In another press conference in Phnom Penh, I said Adhoc would file a complaint to the Supreme Council of Magistracy to request a review of the arrest that we thought was not in line with procedure,” he said during his trial last Wednesday.
The municipal court’s decision prompted Chakrya and his defence lawyer Sam Sokong to request the appeal court to review the case.
Sokong said the lower court’s decision may have been based on four media reports which had incorrectly published Chakrya’s speech.
“The media said the court colluded with each other in making the arrest and that the court was corrupt in its decision to detain the two villagers,” Sokong said.
Sokong said his client should be cleared of the “publication of commentaries to influence the judicial process” charge because he held the press conference only after the court decided to detain the two villagers.
However, in December last year, the appeal court upheld the municipal court’s verdict.
Sorim called the upholding of the verdict ‘incorrect’. He said: “The appeal court’s decision was baseless and did not compare [Chakrya’s] voice record with what the media published.
“[The appeal court] needs to separate defamation from false news reports. Therefore, the Supreme Court will not uphold [the appeal court’s] decision and asks it to review the case again.”
Outside the courtroom, Chakrya told The Post that the Supreme Court’s decision was acceptable.
“The Supreme Court’s decision was based on clear legal procedure, explaining reasons and evidence,” he said.