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Court Upholds Defamation Fine for Mu Sochua

Hundreds of police stopped a procession of opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua and around 50 supporters in front of the Royal Palace on Wednesday, as they marched to protest a defamation verdict against her upheld by the Supreme Court.

The decision ended Mu Sochua’s chances of legally avoiding a court fine of around $4,500, for defamation of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The decision was the culmination of a countersuit brought by Hun Sen against Mu Sochua last year, after she filed a court complaint he had slandered her in public speeches.

“I have been found guilty of a crime that I have not committed at all,” Mu Sochua said outside the court Wednesday. “This is not justice. This is justice for sale, and this is justice for the powerful people only. My freedom, my rights for freedom of expression, were violated. Fair trial was never a part of my case, and of many cases.”

Mu Sochua said she would not pay the fine.

“My conscience tells me that I cannot pay any fine,” she told reporters.

Government lawyer Ky Tech, who represented Hun Sen, said the Supreme Court’s verdict was “acceptable and fair for my client, Prime Minister Hun Sen.”

The Supreme Court decision comes as donors are meeting with the government in Phnom Penh, to discuss among other things reform of the judiciary, which is widely held as corrupt and politically biased.

Mu Sochua told VOA Khmer on Tuesday that donors have an obligation to make sure their money is properly spent.