Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried a former senior government official for allegedly taking bribes during his 2009 investigation into a long-standing land dispute in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district.
Seng Yean, 52, the former deputy director-general of inspection at the Ministry of National Assembly, Senate Relations and Inspection, was fired by Prime Minister Hun Sen in July 2009 after an internal government inquiry found that he had illegally accepted $30,000 to influence his inquest into a land dispute in Dangkao.
The court in May indicted Mr Yean for allegedly taking the bribe. It also indicted his co-defendant, businesswoman Dy Proem, 54, for giving $10,000 to Mr Yean. Court documents say that 120 families in Kakab commune provided a total of $20,000 that was allegedly used to persuade Mr Yean to rule that 120 families owned a six-hectare plot which Ms Proem wanted to buy, but was claimed by a land owner.
Khieu Sophal, Mr Yean’s defense attorney, denied the charges and said that the investigators pressured and threatened Mr Yean into confessing. He did not give details on the alleged threats.
“My client has fulfilled his work as a government official and he did not receive any money, even a single cent,” Mr Sophal told the court. “I would like to ask the court to deny and annul all my client’s confession that was made outside the court and under threat.”
Ms Proem’s lawyer Chhiv Theng said his client never paid a bribe in the case.
Deputy Prosecutor Chet Khemara said Mr Yean had not previously complained about being threatened.
“At this point, it could not be considered because he did not file a complaint against anyone for threatening him,” he said.
Inspection Ministry lawyer Long Norin told the court that the documents and testimony against the defendants are significant.
“Confessions from plaintiff and from the charged person and from other evidence prove that charged person Seng Yean and charged person Dy Proem have clearly committed the crimes of taking and giving the bribe,” he said.
The date of the verdict has not been scheduled.