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Ultimatum Issued in Mu Sochua Court Fine

The Phnom Penh municipal treasury department has issued a court order to opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua that requires her to pay a court-mandated fine and compensation to Prime Minister Hun Sen or face a jail term.

Mu Sochua, who lost a Supreme Court appeal in a guilty verdict for defamation this month, is in the US. She has said she will not pay the fine and compensation, a total of around $4,500, in a countersuit brought by Hun Sen after she sued him for allegedly degrading remarks in public speeches.

If a warrant is issued for her arrest, she will be the second Sam Rainsy Party member to be abroad and facing a jail term.

Sam Rainsy himself remains in exile and faces a two-year sentence for destruction of border markers in Svay Rieng province. He is facing additional criminal charges for publishing a map on his website alleging improper border demarcation by the government.

Both lawmakers have been without their parliamentary immunity since 2009, and both have said the courts are being politically manipulated by the ruling party to damage the opposition.

In a letter last week to Mu Sochua, the municipal treasury department said she would have two weeks to pay her fine.

Mu Sochua is currently traveling in the US to promote a documentary film on human trafficking she helped produce. She was not immediately available for comment.

Municipal court prosecutor Sok Roeun told VOA Khmer Monday he will soon issue his own letter giving Mu Sochua 10 days to comply with the fines.

“If she still opposes, she will be arrested,” he said.