4 Lawyers Suspended After Not Paying Fees

The Cambodia Bar Association has barred four lawyers from practicing law for six months as pun­ish­ment for not paying membership fees to the association, members of the body said on Thurs­day.

Incumbent bar association Presi­­dent Ky Tech signed the ord­er last week preventing law­yers Chea Pheng, Pang So­thea, Sun Chan­­­da­ra­vuth and Chhit Sar­ith from providing legal assistance to the pub­lic from Jan 1 to July 1, 2006. If the four fail to pay their membership fees during the disciplinary period, Ky Tech said, they will be thrown out of the association, which would effectively prevent them from working as law­yers.

“In case they fail to fulfill their ob­li­gations…more punishment will be laid, including the removal of their names from the list [of bar members],” Ky Tech wrote in the letter of suspension.

The lawyers called the decision il­legal on Thursday, saying Ky Tech had made the decision without the approval of the bar council. They also said they had not paid their fees for 2005 because of the dispute between bar council presidential rivals Ky Tech and Suon Vi­sal, which all but paralyzed the asso­ciation last year.

“I never paid money to the bar for the whole year of the dispute. I would have been shameful to pay at that time. I was tired of it,” said Chea Peng, who is also a member of the bar council.

Chea Peng said he owed $200 in membership fees for 2005.

Pang Sothea, Sun Chanda­ravuth and Chhit Sarith said they owed a comparable amount of mon­ey, and that they had withheld payment until the rightful president had taken his seat at the bar.

Bar council members Chiv Song­­hak and Bou Savon said the presi­dent had uni­laterally made the decision to suspend the four and noted that up to 90 percent of bar mem­bers were late in paying their fees.

“The barred lawyers can appeal against this decision,” Chiv Song­hak added.


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