Official Fired for Corruption Retracts Confession

A former government official, who was charged in August by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for al­legedly taking a bribe in a land dispute, has accused the Ministry of Senate-Assembly Relations and Inspection of violating laws on civil servants and their code of conduct.

In a letter to Investigating Judge Sin Visal dated Nov 9, Seng Yean claimed that a complaint filed with the court by Min­ister of In­spection Som Kimsour was based on an allegation from members of her own investigating team who were “jealous” of his ability to “make money.”

“In my case, the ministry failed to act in accordance with the law on public servants’ code of conduct and the co-statute of civil servants,” said Mr Yean, who is a former dep­uty director-general of the Ministry of Inspection.

“That’s why I think the previous actions taken by the ministry were not right with the law,” he wrote in his complaint.

The Co-Statute For the Civil Ser­vants of the Kingdom of Cambodia states that civil servants are prohibited from using “influence or pow­er” to extract any benefit from Cam­bodian citizens.

Mr Yean, however, did not specify in his court complaint what part of the co-statute he was referring to or how he made such money that made his coworkers at the ministry jealous.

Mr Yean drew public criticism from Prime Minister Hun Sen after an internal government inquiry in July found that he took a $30,000 payment from a businesswoman and other local villagers in ex­change for his favorable decision in an investigation over the ownership of nearly seven hectares of disputed land in Phnom Penh’s Dang­kao district.

In August, Sok Roeun, deputy prosecutor at the municipal court, charged Mr Yean with taking the bribe. He also charged Dy Proem, a businesswoman, and her accomplices with paying the bribe.

In his letter to Judge Visal, Mr Yean also claimed that his previous confessions with investigators at the Inspection Ministry, in which he admitted accepting $30,000 in bribe money from Ms Proem and 120 local families, was made under duress because he had been threatened by the Min­istry’s investigating team. Mr Yean did not mention what those threats entailed.

In his earlier confession to the In­spection Ministry, which he now de­nies, Mr Yean said that the villagers in the land dispute had actually agreed to pay him a total of $200,000, and that he had been giv­en $20,000 in advance from the villagers, plus $10,000 from the businesswoman.

Judge Visal could not be reached for comment.

Ms Kimsour, the Minister of In­spection, who told the court in her July complaint that the corruption scandal had seriously affected the reputation of her ministry, could not be reached for comment. But Long Norin, a lawyer representing the Inspec­tion Ministry, who led the questioning of Mr Yean, on Monday defended Ms Kimsour, saying she had done nothing wrong in seeking Mr Yean’s prosecution.

“No, there was no coercion at all,” Mr Norin said of Mr Yean’s confession. “There were many people [who attended the confession session]. There was no such problem,” he said.


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