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Radio Journalist Faces Defamation Charges

One journalist and three of his sources went on trial for defamation in Takeo province on Tuesday, with the court scheduling a verdict for Feb. 19.

To Serey, a radio journalist for Radio Free Asia, is accused of broadcasting a report alleging corruption by a local official in the province.

Two human rights workers and a villager who were interviewed by the reporter are also accused of defamation.

All four appeared in court Tuesday, where a five-hour hearing ensued. Evidence against the accused was based on testimony of 12 witnesses, who denied the broadcast report, which said members of the Muslim community had demonstrated against corruption.

Cambodia’s courts have come under increasing criticism for criminal trials of defamation and disinformation, allowed under a recently passed media law.

Critics say the law promotes retributive suits against government dissenters, the opposition and the media.