Decision in Cyber Defamation Case Comes Down

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Rupert Winchester in front of the Phnom Penh courthouse prior to the verdict being read.(Photo: Khmer Times/Billy Otter)
PHNOM PENH, (Khmer Times) – In a case that sits firmly in the shadow of Cambodia’s Draft Cybercrime Law and its notorious Article 28, a decision was handed down today. 
The accused, a long serving member of the media corps, Rupert Winchester, was ordered to pay a fine and compensation to the plaintiff, a Singaporean resident with Cambodian citizenship named Etienne Chenevier.
The Overseas Press Club of Cambodia has issued statements addressing its concerns over the implications for journalists and the excessive reach of legal sanctions. Article 19, an organization fighting for free speech the world over has criticized the Law for falling well below acceptable international standards.
Chenevier had been seeking $500,000.00 US in losses, plus all legal fees incurred. He claims these losses are due to Winchester’s comments on his blog and an article in the Phnom Penh Post, his employer at the time. 
Today the judge handed down the court’s decision. A fine of 8,000,000.00 Riel ($2000.00 US) was levied, as well as, an order to pay 100,000,000.00 Riel ($25,000.00 US) in compensation.
A source requesting anonymity said that the development in question is in the final stages of being sold, as the agent responsible was not accepting any further offers on the property.
“It would seem that I haven’t caused too much harm to the situation then, if it is indeed sold, and for the asking price,” commented Winchester after the decision was read.
The defendant is expected to file an appeal in the coming days, as the fight for freedom of speech in the Kingdom of Cambodia continues.

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