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Mu Sochua Faces Docked Wages After Court Loss

Mu Sochua, an opposition party lawmaker, at Phnom Penh Municipal Airport, early July.
Mu Sochua, an opposition party lawmaker, at Phnom Penh Municipal Airport, early July.

Mu Sochua, the opposition lawmaker who lost a defamation court battle with Prime Minister Hun Sen, will have her National Assembly salary docked to pay nearly $2,000 in compensation.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court ordered the National Assembly to take approximately 4.2 million riel, or $1,000, from her paycheck for two months.

“Mu Sochua must not obstruct or arrange for the prevention of officials in charge of preparing salaries at the [National Assembly] finance department from clearing the would-be confiscated debt,” the court said in a July 20 decision obtained by VOA Khmer.

The money will go to Hun Sen, who countersued Mu Sochua last year following her own claims he had defamed her with derogatory remarks in public speeches.

The case brought international attention to the Cambodian judicial system, which local and international rights groups say is typically politically biased toward the ruling party or subject to bribery and corruption. International donors routinely call for increased judicial reform.

Mu Sochua called the court decision “a kind of coercion” and “a political tool.”

“The judges cannot use their consciences to deliver justice to me as a parliamentarian,” she said.

Mu Sochua, a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian representing Kampot province, had repeatedly said she would not pay the fine, but the order comes after she lost her final appeal to the Supreme Court in June.

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the Sam Rainsy Party, said members would stand by the lawmaker.

“This is an act of injustice,” he said. “It is not her salary that Mu Sochua stands to defend, but to show the national public and international community that the court only acts in favor of the Cambodian People's Party.”

The court order does not specify when the deductions will take place, and National Assembly officials were not immediately available for comment.