Court Sets Hearing Date in Government Bribery Case

Prosecutors in Phnom Penh on July 22 are due to question one of the subjects of an investigation into alleged bribe-taking at the In­spection Ministry that resulted from a land dispute in Dangkao district two years ago, according to court documents.

In a pair of summonses dated June 29, copies of which were ob­tained yesterday, deputy prosecutor Chet Khemara invited the landowner, Huot Sarom, and her lawyer for questioning.

Seng Yean, the former deputy director-general of inspection at the ministry, was fired by Prime Min­ister Hun Sen in July after an internal government inquiry accused him of taking a bribe to influence his findings as part of an inquest into a Dangkao district land dispute involving Ms Sarom.

In a closely guarded ruling in January, Judge Sin Visal said his investigation was incomplete and declined to detain Mr Yean, who was charged in August with accepting a $30,000 bribe from a woman, Dy Proem, who had a financial interest in the dispute, as well as 120 villagers, during his investigation of a conflict in which the villagers claimed to own about 6 hectares in Kakab commune’s Kakab village.

Judge Visal concluded his investigation in mid-June and last week declined to discuss his findings, citing court confidentiality.

“As head of an investigating delegation to investigate the land dispute among 120 families, charged person Seng Yean, while fulfilling his duty as an official government representative, took that opportunity for his personal gain and through Ms Dy Proem accepted cash from the poor villagers,” deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun wrote in May 15 observations following two years of investigation.

“Based on confessions from the plaintiff and from the charged persons and from other evidence, it can be proven that charged person Seng Yean, 52, and charged person Dy Proem, 49, have clearly committed the crimes of taking and giving bribes.”

Neither Mr Khemara nor Mr Roeun could be reached for comment yesterday.

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