Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced a 43-year-old man to seven years in prison for forging the signatures of Interior Minister Sar Kheng and General Sao Sokha, the National Military Police commander, in an attempt to have 10 men hired as ministry officials.
“The court sentences Ing Chandara, 43, a former NGO worker, to seven years in prison and orders him to pay $1,480 in compensation to the complainant for forging a public document,” Judge Ke Sakhorn said at the court.
Deputy Prosecutor Kry Sok Y said by phone after the verdict that the court decision was “suitable,” noting that Mr Chandara has received less than the maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
But defense lawyer Neang Hay said his client deserved a lower sentence because he had confessed and because this was the first time he had forged documents.
“I cannot accept the court’s decision because it is serious for my client,” Mr Hay said. “I’m not sure whether I will appeal or not; I am waiting to discuss with my client.”
The complainant, 44-year-old Sisowath Sereyvuth, was one of 10 men who paid Mr Chandara to help ensure the success of their job applications, according to a statement read by a court clerk during the Oct 12 trial. Mr Sereyvuth later learned from the Interior Ministry that the documents were fake.
Mr Chandara, who was arrested in April, admitted during the trial that he forged signatures, saying Mr Sereyvuth paid him $400. The documents falsely showed that the ministry had approved the men’s employment.
“I forged it by myself,” Mr Chandara said on Oct 12, claiming he needed the money to feed himself. “I promise that I will not do this again,” he added.
Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, welcomed yesterday’s verdict.
“If that case happen again, the court will decide,” he said. “That is the lesson for the people who forge the signature of the leaders of this country. The law will decide.”
(Additional reporting by Clancy McGilligan)