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Customs officer sues journalists

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
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Journalist Hun Sokha pushes customs officer Yi Thol during the altercation. Fresh News

Prek Chak customs checkpoint chief Yi Thol yesterday filed a lawsuit at Kampot Provincial Court alleging that 10 online journalists had prevented his officers from performing their duties by filming activities in the area on May 28.

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Provincial court spokesman Khann Sophal confirmed the court received the complaint from Mr Thol yesterday morning.

“We have received his complaint and the court will follow the procedure to summon relevant parties for questioning,” he said.

On May 28, 10 journalists from Cambodian People News TV online were involved in an argument with Mr Thol at the checkpoint after he grabbed one of their mobile phones while they were taking videos of trucks transporting cooking oil across the border from Vietnam.

Video footage which went viral on Facebook showed journalist Hun Sokha pushing Mr Thol after he grabbed his phone at the checkpoint. The person who shot the video was heard saying that Mr Thol was a thief for grabbing a journalist’s phone.

Chorn Youdeth, 29, CPNTV editor-in-chief and one of 10 named in the complaint, yesterday said that he was not worried about Mr Thol’s complaint because they had not violated the journalistic code of ethics when carrying out their duties.

“Let him sue us,” he said. “We are not worried and will let the court decide if we were in the wrong.”

Mr Youdeth said that he and his team went to the checkpoint to record activities there after receiving complaints from villagers that trucks were bringing in unlabelled goods, such as cooking oil, soy sauce and noodles, from Vietnam which were being stored at the checkpoint.

“While I was filming, one of my reporters was talking to a guard to be allowed in to meet the checkpoint customs chief for permission to record activities there,” Mr Youdeth noted. “However, Mr Thol suddenly came out and grabbed Hun Sokha’s phone and an argument ensued when we tried to get it back.”

“I think that he is trying to hide something and that is why he did not allow us to access information,” Mr Youdeth added.

Meas Sophon, Information Ministry spokesman, yesterday said that anyone can file a court complaint if they feel that a broadcast has affected their dignity.

“The Information Ministry always encourages journalists to be professional and follow their code of ethics,” he said. “If they have done anything wrong, journalists will face legal action, just like the customs officer’s lawsuit.”

Mr Thol could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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