Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia Daily publisher's defamation trial again deferred

Cambodia Daily publisher's defamation trial again deferred

A man reads The Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh on its last day of publication after the paper closed in 2017 over a massive tax bill. AFP
A man reads The Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh on its last day of publication after the paper closed in 2017 over a massive tax bill. AFP

Cambodia Daily publisher's defamation trial again deferred

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court again delayed a defamation trial against Cambodia Daily Deputy Publisher Deborah Krisher-Steele on Thursday, with the presiding judge saying he needed time to consider the grounds for the complaint and a defence motion to summons the government-aligned online news outlet Fresh News.

The trial, which resumed Thursday after it was postponed on March 22, is in relation to a defamation case filed by the General Department of Taxation against Krisher-Steele for alleging that the tax body had leaked a confidential document and that a $6.3 million tax bill was politically motivated.

The independent Cambodia Daily closed in September after receiving the unaudited tax bill from the tax department, which came in the midst of a government crackdown on the Cambodia National Rescue Party, NGOs and media organisations.

Presiding Judge Seng Leang said he needed time to deliberate on a defence request asking for Fresh News, which published the leaked tax document, to be summonsed in the case. After a short deliberation, Leang said he needed additional time to consider the request.

“The case is complicated to summon Fresh News,” he said. "It could affect the professionalism of the journalists and so we will discuss this later.”

The short hearing also deliberated on the grounds for the defamation complaint. The Tax Department’s legal team initially said the complaint was filed because Krisher-Steele spoke to Radio Free Asia alleging that the Tax Department had leaked the document and that it was a politically motivated case.

However, once defence lawyers Hem Sunrith and Sek Sophorn started questioning where the leak came from, Mao Samvutheary said the leaks were not the basis for the complaint.

“For the leaks we did not file a complaint on that. We filed the complaint on the defamation of the General Department of Taxation,” she said. “So we filed the complaint against her because she accused us regarding the shutting down of the Daily.”

Before the hearing was suspended, a statement from Krisher-Steele was read out in court in which she said she responded to the tax document leak only after the Tax Department itself had discussed the dispute with local media, despite being restricted by confidentiality clauses governing the department.

“I am in fact the victim in this case because GDT did not respect the Law on Taxation and violated the confidentiality of my tax document which led to the closure of my business and this untrue defamation case,” she said in the statement.

The judge has not announced when the trial will resume.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Mr Pancake or M Crepe? Tasty by any title

    Crowds of people gather around a lone man with a mobile food cart every day at around 2pm in front of the Institut Francais du Cambodge to order what many say are the best crepes in Phnom Penh. To some – even to the man making

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused

  • PM sets tourism reopening as centrepiece of ATF 2022

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged ASEAN to reopen tourism and trade now that many of the bloc’s member countries have vaccinated their populations. Speaking at the 40th ASEAN Tourism Forum 2022 (ATF 2022) in Preah Sihanouk province on January 18, the premier also said ASEAN has a