Municipal Court Convicts Former Court Clerk Over Stolen Money

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday convicted one its former clerks of breach of trust and forgery and sentenced him to four-and-a-half years in jail, after he was found to have taken $250,000 from a businessman for a speedy and successful conclusion to his trial.

Kruoch Borath, 40, was arrested in October and charged with taking the sum of money from Suon Ly in order to expedite a case he had filed over a business dispute. When the dispute was resolved out of court, Mr. Ly wanted his money back from the clerk, but did not receive it, promoting him to then file a complaint against the clerk, which led to Mr. Borath’s arrest.

“The court sentences Krouch Borath to four-and-a-half years in prison and orders him to return the money to the victim,” presiding Judge Sin Visal said.

Mr. Borath worked under Judge Ke Sakhorn at the time he received the massive kickback payment, and during his trial on April 9, the former clerk said that although he had taken the $250,000 payment, he had been instructed to do so by Judge Sakhorn, who had signed all the documents regarding the cash payment.

When Mr. Ly asked for his cash back, Mr. Borath said in his testimony, that Judge Sakhorn said that he would repay the businessman.

Judge Sakhorn, who was moved to the Takeo Provincial Court earlier this year, said that he did not know Mr. Ly and had not signed any documents. During the trial, Judge Sakhorn claimed that he had instructed his clerk to deposit Mr. Ly’s money in the municipal court’s bank account, but that Mr. Borath had not done this and subsequently accused him of failing to return the payment.

“The verdict was justice for me, as [Mr. Borath] took that money and then falsely accused me,” Judge Sakhorn said Thursday.

Defense lawyer May Vannady did not attend court Thursday to hear the verdict being read, but contacted by telephone he said he did not know whether his client would appeal the verdict.

“It will be his decision to appeal or not…. But the verdict is an injustice because the court convicted him without carrying out a sufficient investigation of the case,” Mr. Vannady said.

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