General in Land Dispute With Another General

A two-star army general was arrested Friday on charges of defamation because he lost a court case over a dispute with a land broker and a formerly high-ranking police official, his lawyer said. 

Major General Chea Dara’s lawyer, Put Theavy, said yesterday that the dispute began in 2009, when his client was employed by a company called Kim Hab to help buy a parcel of land in Chamkar Mon district.

Maj. Gen. Dara paid a total of $5 million to a broker, Chuob Chan, and a three-star police general, Doeun Sovann, to facilitate the purchase. However, when the land turned out to already be owned by another company, the two men allegedly refused to return the $5 million to his client, Mr. Theavy said.

When Maj. Gen. Dara sued the pair, they counter-sued for defamation, and he lost the case.

“Sometime in 2013, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Mr. Dara to eight months in jail and an 80 million riel [$20,000] fine for defamation, and the Supreme Court has upheld the Phnom Penh court’s decision,” Mr. Theavy said.

Following the Supreme Court verdict on Friday, Maj. Gen. Dara was sent to PJ prison to serve out his sentence.

A lawyer for Mr. Sovann—who has since been stripped of his police rank after being charged with interfering with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s land titling scheme for personal gain—could not be reached for comment.

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