Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday found the publisher of the Who’s Who guide Men Narong and his wife guilty of forgery and sentenced them to prison terms of seven years and five years respectively and ordered them to pay $1 million the complainant in the case.
Mr Narong is currently serving a three year sentence, handed down in November, following his conviction for breach of trust over accusations that he cheated Mohamed Dewji, a British businessman, out of $9 million that was allegedly given to Mr Narong to purchase land on Mr Dewji’s behalf. Mr Narong was also ordered to repay the $9 million and a further $2 million in damages.
Yesterday, Mr Narong and his wife, Chhim Sereimom, were convicted for allegedly forging a document outlining the parameters of a 427-hectare plot of land in Koh Kong province that didn’t actually exist.
“The court orders Mr Narong and his wife to pay the complainant Mr Dewji $1 million in compensation,” said Judge Suos Sam Ath. The judge also ordered the arrest of Ms Sereimom, who was not in court.
During the first half of Mr Narong’s forgery trial on May 25, Deputy Prosecutor Cheth Khemara at one point questioned whether the defendant was in fact guilty. He also requested that the case be reinvestigated as Mr Narong’s business partner, Sunil Gohel, was never questioned and a copy of the forged land map was not available. Contact information for Mr Gohel was not available.
Noun Phanith, one of Mr Narong’s lawyers, said the judge had ignored the deputy prosecutor’s previous concerns about Mr Gohel and the alleged document forgery. The judge should have ordered the case reinvestigation, Mr Phanith said.
“The judge’s decision was not right and it was unjust for my clients,” he said, adding he did not know the whereabouts of Ms Sereimom.
Mr Narong claimed in court in November that he had been blamed for the failed land speculation scheme by Mr Dewji and his business associates. In order to recoup losses, Mr Dewji and his associates allegedly placed the blame on Mr Narong and fabricated accusations against him of wrongdoing, Mr Narong claimed.
Lawyer Theng Meng Y, who represents Mr Dewji, could not be reached for comment.