Prosecutor Probes Suspect Divorce Papers Investigated

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Deputy Prosecutor Plang Sophal said Thursday that he is investigating suspected forged divorce documents that appear to carry the signature of Banteay Meanchey Pro­vin­cial Court Judge Ya Sokhorn, who has been appointed as a judge to the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

The investigation began last week at the request of the Australian and US embassies, he said. The forged documents may have been issued to Cambodians who wanted to pretend that their marriages had ended so they could get US or Australian residency through marriage, he added.

“The investigation is to find out whether the documents are fake or not,” he said.

Ya Sokhorn, who is slated to serve on the tribunal’s trial chamber, said someone else has forged his signature on the documents, adding that he supports the investigation as he wants to clear his name.

“I want an investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he added.

The documents appear to have been signed during the period when Ya Sokhorn was a judge at the capital’s municipal court prior to his transfer to Banteay Meanchey court in 2005, where he is currently employed, officials said.

Municipal Court Prosecutor Ouk Savouth declined comment.

US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said the embassy did not file a complaint about the case.

“We have only sought verification as to the authenticity of certain documents,” he said. “All the paperwork has to be verified…. It happens all the time.”

An Australian Embassy official said the embassy had not issued any legal proceeding relating to divorce papers but declined further comment.

Asked what would happen if Ya Sokhorn was found to be at fault, tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath wrote in an e-mail: “We have to respect the rights and the decision of the Supreme Council of Ma­gistracy which is the highest le­gal body in the Kingdom of Cambodia under the Constitution and it is chaired by His Majesty the King. We have to keep moving forward and cannot go back to square one.”

The Supreme Council of Magis­tracy selected the judges last week.


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