Candlelight Party (CP) vice-president Son Chhay is preparing to appeal the October 7 decisions of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which found him guilty of defaming both the National Election Committee (NEC) and ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)
The lawsuit stemmed from Chhay’s critical remarks on alleged irregularities in the June 5 commune council elections.
“My lawyer and I have decided that we will appeal. We are preparing the necessary documents,” said Chhay.
He did not specify the timing of the appeal, but said he would leave that decision up to his lawyer Choung Chou Ngy.
The municipal court ordered Chhay to pay nine million riel ($2,200) to the state for the election commission’s complaint of public defamation. In addition, he was ordered to pay eight million riel to the state and three billion riel in compensation to the CPP.
Chhay and his lawyer said they considered the decision unfair, saying it is a political case that should not have been resolved by the judiciary.
The CP vice-president was the subject of the two complaints following an interview with the online media outlet Cambodia Daily, during which he allegedly cited irregularities and ballot rigging in the elections.
Chhay considered his comments to be part of political discourse, saying his criticism was merely suggestions to improve Cambodia’s electoral system to ensure it is free and fair.
NEC spokesman Hang Puthea said that Chhay has the right to appeal, and that the NEC will accept any legal decision made by the courts.
“We are happy to comply with any decision made by the judicial branch. Any outcomes which are the result of standard legal procedures are acceptable to us,” he told The Post on October 16.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan could not be reached for comment on October 16, saying he was occupied with meetings.