Reinvestigation ordered in Facebook defamation case

By: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sent prosecutors back to the drawing board, ordering a reinvestigation into the defamation case against two officials who allegedly published material suggesting an affair between CPP Senator Keo Mally and RCAF Lieutenant General Seak Socheath.

Ministry of Interior police official Pheng Vannak and armed forces General Hang Borey stand accused of promoting “false and defamatory information” in Facebook posts responding to rumours started by Prum San of the Ministry of Information, and Mom Manuth, Socheath’s ex-wife, who were last month convicted of defamation.

According to court reports, a post by San speculating on a romantic liaison between the lawmaker and general was shared on Vannak’s Facebook page, while Borey allegedly posted comments on two accounts suggesting the pair were “friends” who had sex.

However, judge Top Chhun Heng concluded that a reinvestigation was required into whether the accounts actually belonged to the accused because “no report from police verifying Pheng Vannak and Hang Borey’s Facebook accounts” was ever filed.

Borey testified at trial that both of her accounts were hacked.

Borey could not be reached yesterday, but Vannak welcomed the decision. “I really posted those messages, but just copied them from San’s Facebook . . . I have no intention to defame [Mally].