Heng Samrin Lobbies for Commune Chief’s Release

CPP Honorary President and Na­­­tional Assembly President Heng Sam­­­rin has come to the as­sistance of a jailed CPP commune chief in Si­ha­noukville, asking the mu­nicipal court to consider a request to re­lease the man on bail, Heng Sam­rin said Wed­nes­day.

Heng Samrin said by telephone that he made the request to the court to consider the case of Snguon Chhum, who is accused of illegally granting a land title. He said he wrote to the court earlier this month on the advice of the As­sembly’s human rights commission, and was not exerting po­li­tical in­fluence of the court.

“I acted on the request of the As­­sembly commission; it was not po­litically motivated,” he said.

On Oct 5, Snguon Chhum, chief of Bet Traing commune in Prey Nop district, was arrested for illegally granting a land title to one party in a property dispute.

CPP District Governor Ban Sa­rom said that Snguon Chhum was only guilty of an administrative error, and should be released on bail. To expedite the process, he and other officials sent letters last week to the justice and interior ministries, the Assembly and the Council of Ministers, he said.

Heng Samrin and the CPP’s Jus­­tice Minister Ang Vong Vath­ana have both sent letters re­questing that the commune chief be set free on bail. Though de­tained, Snguon Chhum is currently in hospital with hemorrhoids.

Ang Vong Vathana could not be reached for comment.

In neighboring Kampot pro­vince, Funcinpec’s former provincial governor Puth Chandarith has been languishing in jail since July after being arrested on allegations of corruption and land grabbing.

Regarding Puth Chandarith, Heng Samrin said that nobody had asked him to intervene in the jailed governor’s case.

Lu Laysreng, Func­inpec rural development minister, said that his party had been trying to get Puth Chan­da­rith released on bail but added: “It is hard.”

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