A lawyer who was charged with the attempted bribery of a judge said on Thursday that the money he tried to provide on behalf of his client was meant as bail—not a bribe.
Speaking during a hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday, attorney Pich Rattana admitted to having received $5,000 from his client, Sang Sary, but said that the money was meant to keep her out of provisional detention in relation to a case in which she and her husband allegedly forged documents in order to sell her mother’s property.
“With this money, my aim was to tell her that it would be deposited at the court as part of the bail,” Mr. Rattana said on Thursday.
“The main aim was to make sure she was ready to provide bail,” he added. “I was ready to conclude and ask for her to be put under court observation.”
Ms. Sary said her lawyer had asked her for more than $10,000 to make a deal with Investigating Judge Chuon Sokreasey to keep her out of jail, according to testimony from Ms. Sary that was read aloud by the court clerk on Thursday.
However, she said she could only afford $5,000. She added that she asked to speak with the judge directly, but Mr. Rattana didn’t allow her to meet with him.
Judge Sokreasey on Thursday denied discussing any deal with Mr. Rattana in relation to Ms. Sary.
“No, there was not any discussion,” he said, before referring additional questions to the court spokesman.
Deputy prosecutor Ngin Pich said that even though Mr. Rattana denied the charge of bribery, matching testimonies from both Ms. Sary and Anti-Corruption Unit officials showed that Mr. Rattana was attempting to commit bribery.
Mr. Rattana’s lawyer, Chou Chanthyra, denied that his client had intended to use the money as a bribe.
“The bribery did not happen because he did not discuss” anything with Judge Sokreasey, he said.
Mr. Rattana was arrested on May 31 and is currently on bail.