Chanbuth appeared for questioning on December 2, at the provincial court of Mondulkiri, an eastern province of Cambodia after charges were filed by Lieutenant Colonel Sophat Serivuthy, alleging incitement and defamation, according to the report. In July of this year, Chanbuth interviewed ten indigenous families who accused the lieutenant of planting fence posts in an attempt to grab their land in Pate Commune, Ratanakiri Province, in the northeast of Cambodia.
Mondulkiri provincial court prosecutor, Mam Vanda, said the questioning was part of the evidence gathering procedure.
Chanbuth rejected the allegations, saying the court must conduct a proper and fair investigation into the case, citing that accurate information and a reliable source among the residents had been provided.
The Alliance of Cambodian Journalists (CamboJa) said the plaintiff should have issued a statement to correct the report, instead of taking legal action and threatening press freedom.
The IFJ said: “We condemn the improper use of the law to silence journalists in Cambodia. The international standard is to call for a clarification, correction or right of reply on disputed reports rather than criminalising journalists through unwarranted defamation actions. The IFJ calls on the authorities to drop the case and ensure that press freedom and freedom of speech in Cambodia are protected.”