Disgraced Ex-Commune Chief Gets 3 Years Over Land Feud

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday sentenced a former commune chief to three years in prison for refusing to enforce a 2008 Supreme Court ruling on a land dispute, court officials said.

The disgraced chief of Kok Roka commune in Prek Pnov district, Phy Nop, 46, was already in provisional detention following his arrest in December on suspicion of ordering a grenade attack that killed an 11-year-old boy in October.

Phy Nop is escorted from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Phy Nop is escorted from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Following a trial on April 24, Presiding Judge Y Thavrak announced Tuesday that Mr. Nop had been sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 4 million riel, or about $1,000.

Keo Ya, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs, Ngov Chhay Srun, said his client filed a complaint in June over Mr. Nop’s refusal to allow him and two other people—Siv Vuoch Suon and Lim Teu—to take ownership of a disputed plot of land.

After the Supreme Court awarded the land to the three parties in 2008, a deputy municipal court prosecutor and cadastral officials divided the plot between them in 2009, Mr. Ya said. The plaintiffs then submitted the necessary documents to Mr. Nop, who was supposed to sign them to finalize their legal ownership of the land.

“But Mr. Phy Nop said the documents were not correct,” Mr. Ya said.

Mr. Nop’s lawyer, Uch Sina, said the court’s decision was unfair.

“My client wanted to ensure all the related documents were correct before he signed them,” he said. “If he had just signed them, and the land overlapped, they would have filed a complaint and he would have had a problem.”

A land dispute was also allegedly behind the grenade attack in October, which killed the son of a real estate broker and injured several others as they ate dinner at the businessman’s home in Kok Roka.

In December, military police arrested a 27-year-old man for lobbing the grenade from a motorbike, and Mr. Nop was arrested shortly thereafter on suspicion of ordering the hit.

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