Another Case, Another Year In Prison for Military Colonel

A military colonel serving a one-year prison sentence for fraud was on Tuesday handed an identical jail term after being found guilty of accepting a bribe to process a prospective student’s application to study at the National Defense University in Phnom Penh.

Ouk Sithorn, 48, who has been suspended from his position in the Defense Ministry’s inspections department, has been tried for fraud at least three times for taking money from Defense University applicants and then pocketing it.

Ouk Sithorn, second from right, leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Ouk Sithorn, second from right, leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

In October, Mr. Sithorn was sentenced to a year behind bars for accepting part of a $10,000 bribe paid to Kim Sokhon, deputy chief of the university’s employment office, who had promised to secure admission for three of the plaintiff’s nephews. Mr. Sokhon was also convicted in the case but has never been arrested or appeared in court.

Last month, Mr. Sithorn stood trial in a nearly identical case, but it remains unclear whether he was convicted.

On trial in the third and latest case earlier this month, Mr. Sithorn admitted to accepting $2,800 from plaintiff Huot Thorn—whom he promised to pay back if his application to the university was rejected—only to use the money to resolve a family issue.

On Tuesday, the court announced that he was guilty as charged.

“The court decides to sentence Ouk Sithorn, 39, to one year in prison on a charge of fraud committed in Phnom Penh in 2015,” said Presiding Judge Yin Saroeun, adding that the colonel would also be made to pay $2,500 to Mr. Thorn.

As he was led out of the courtroom, Mr. Sithorn said he would appeal the decision, going on to suggest that others were guilty of the same crime. “I will not let them go free,” he said.

Sar Moeun, vice rector of the Defense University, said Mr. Sokhon was still employed by the school.

“He was there this morning,” he said, reiterating that he knew nothing about the October conviction.

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