Court Rejects Request for Gov’t Involvement in Bribery Scandal

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court in early Feb­ruary denied a request by an alleged victim in a cor­ruption case to force government investigators to confront a former government official accused of taking bribes in a long-running land dispute in Dangkao district, lawyers and court officials said Friday.

Seng Yean, former deputy director-general of the Inspection Min­istry’s inspection department, was charged in August with accepting a bribe from a woman named Dy Proem and 120 villagers during his investigation of a land dispute in which the villagers tried to claim ownership of 6.6 hectares in Kakab commune’s Kakab village in Phnom Penh. The bribe was alleg­edly paid in return for Mr Yean jud­ging in favor of the businesswoman and villagers and against the land’s current owner.

Kao Ty, a lawyer representing the land owner, Huot Sarun, had demanded that the investigation into Mr Yean’s activities, which was headed by lawyer Long Norin on behalf of Inspection Minister Som Kimsour, make the investigation transparent and interview Mr Yean in court to clarify details of the dispute and bribery case.

But according to a court decision dated Feb 12, the court’s investigating judge Sin Visal ruled out compelling the appearance in court of Mr Yean or his investigators.

“The request made by Mr Kao Ty is not in compliance with the [procedure] of the case file,” Mr Visal wrote, adding “Deny the request for [court] confrontation between charged persons Seng Yean, Dy Proem and Inspecting Delegate.”

Judge Visal and his clerk Lay Vireakcheat said they were too busy to talk to reporter when contacted Friday, while Mr Norin declined to discuss the matter.

Mr Ty said Friday he will appeal, adding “there is seemingly a cover up during the investigation period.”

In a closely guarded ruling, the municipal court in January declined to detain Mr Yean who was fired from his position by Prime Minister Hun Sen in July after the internal government inquiry found he had taken the bribe.

 

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