The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has issued a five-year prison sentence to a major in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces who made more than $10,000 by peddling access to a nonexistent military unit he claimed was headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son.
Nguon Seng Sathya, 39, who was absent from court on Tuesday morning, was also fined 6 million riel, or about $1,500, for the four charges against him: fraud, faking public documents, illegal weapons possession and improper use of military uniforms.
Presiding Judge Svay Tonh also confiscated a handgun, stamp, military uniforms and documents to be handed over to the state. The items had been taken from Mr. Seng Sathya as evidence.
At his trial last month, the military officer admitted to defrauding 31 people in Siem Reap province and Phnom Penh by taking money for positions in a fake military unit he said was run by Lieutenant General Hun Manet, collecting between $500 and $2,300 from each of the duped applicants.
Previous testimony had heard that Mr. Seng Sathya called it the “Special Intelligence Unit” and claimed Lt. Gen. Manet was his direct superior.
Mr. Seng Sathya was charged and placed in provisional detention in December.
Sam Sokong, Mr. Seng Sathya’s lawyer, on Tuesday said his client would appeal the decision soon because they believe the sentence is too harsh, adding that the charges for fraud and faking documents should not have applied to this case.
“For him, [this sentence] is very severe, partly because he is a breadwinner and also has an illness and children under his burden,” Mr. Sokong said.