An ethnic Phnong man has accused a Mondolkiri Provincial Court official of illegally imprisoning him for more than two months in an attempt to take control of his land in Sen Monorom district.
Ngan Dany, of the district’s Romnea commune, claimed Thursday that Mondolkiri Provincial Court chief clerk Khieu Ban unilaterally ordered his arrest in June because the two were embroiled in a land dispute.
He also maintained that he was held in a dark and crowded cell before being released Monday after paying a $500 bribe to a court prosecutor in addition to handing the court $500 in paperwork fees.
Khieu Ban confirmed that Ngan Dany was imprisoned for more than two months, but said that he was arrested for making fraudulent documents to claim ownership of the land in question and for destroying a fence on it. He also denied that Ngan Dany had ever owned the small plot, which is estimated by Ngan Dany to be worth approximately $20,000.
“The land belongs to someone in the province,” Khieu Ban said. “The court arrested him because of the charges. I don’t own the land. [Ngan Dany] exaggerated the information,” Khieu Ban added.
But Meas Bros, clerk for prosecutor Im Sophan, said that the land in question does belong to Khieu Ban.
Meas Bros added that no bribes were paid to the prosecutors’ office for Ngan Dany’s release. He confirmed, however, that Ngan Dany had paid $500 for court paperwork costs, adding that Investigating Judge Nhem Maran was the only official involved with the payment.
The court is still investigating the charges against Ngan Dany and has not set a trial date, Meas Bros said.
Neither Im Sophan nor Nhem Maran could be reached for comment Thursday.
Adhoc provincial coordinator Sam Sarin said he supports Ngan Dany’s claim to the land in question. “The arrest was wrong because the landowner was only trying to protect the land,” he said.