Phnom Penh Court Hears Case of Corrupt Clerk

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday heard the case of a Banteay Meanchey court clerk accused of corruption and bribe-taking by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU).

In February last year, the ACU arrested 28-year-old Suong Sok Heng, a clerk for provincial prosecutor Phan Vanroath, after they found a stash of cash bribes in his desk drawer.

In court Tuesday, he admitted that he had taken money to facilitate court cases.

Two other people tried Tuesday as accomplices to the bribery, Sem Sokha, 42, and Uy Sopheap, 69, stand accused of paying Mr. Sok Heng for his assistance in their court cases.

“I got $500 from Mr. Sopheap and [another bribe of] 200,000 riel [about $50]. The ACU found the money in my desk,” Mr. Sok Heng said in court Tuesday.

He said he took the money from Mr. Sopheap to speed up his court case, but could not recall the name of the person who had paid the $50 bribe.

Mr. Sok Heng was arrested after a woman involved in a court case against Ms. Sokha complained to the ACU about the bribe her rival had allegedly paid. Nuon Sinet, 39, said she had been involved in a car crash with Ms. Sokha that led to a dispute over compensation.

The two women tried to come to an out-of-court settlement negotiated by the court clerk, Mr. Sok Heng, but Ms. Sokha allegedly paid him a $500 bribe so that the settlement would be biased in her favor.

The court clerk then told Ms. Sinet to pay $3,000 in compensation for the accident, even though it was unclear who was at fault, which angered her and prompted her complaint to the ACU.

Lawyers for both accused bribe-givers said their clients were innocent and should be acquitted. Kong Tylin, the defense lawyer for Mr. Sok Heng, said his client should receive the minimum sentence because he had cooperated with the investigation against him.

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