Renakse Hotel Dispute Sees Final Arguments Submitted

Supreme Court expected to hear case ‘shortly’

Three months after the former manager of the Renakse Hotel in Phnom Penh filed her final arguments with the Supreme Court to prevent the historic building from being torn down, lawyers for the Cam­bodian People’s Party followed suit late last month, paving the way for a hearing a year after the court be­gan its review, lawyers and court officials said yesterday.

Conflict over the French colonial-era building located directly in front of the Royal Palace on So­thearos Boulevard dates back to 2008, when the CPP sold the building to local developer Alex­son for $3.8 million, claiming the hotel’s long-time manager, Kem Chantha, had violated the terms of her 49-year lease on the historic building.

In early 2009, the Renakse—which had been managed by Ms Chantha since 1992—was for­cibly shut down by police.

Ms Chantha has been disputing the sale of the hotel since 2008, and a Supreme Court re­view of the ownership has been pending since September 2009, after Ms Chantha appealed the lower court’s decision to annul her lease with the CPP.

Khiev Sepphan, lawyer for the CPP, said Thursday that he sub­mitted final arguments on July 29 and that the court told him it would hear the case shortly.

“It’s up to the judge to set the date to hear this case, but it may be next month,” Mr Sepphan said.

Supreme Court clerk Sok Pha­ly said he handed both sides’ final submissions over to court president Dith Munty last week.

“I’ve sent it to the Supreme Court president, and he will set a time for the hearing soon. It’s now out of my hands,” he added.

Judge Munty, who is also a mem­ber of the CPP’s powerful central committee, could not be reached for comment.

Speaking by phone yesterday, Ms Chantha said she would not be attending the court hearing if summoned.

“I do not believe in the court pro­cess…I know Minister of Cults and Religions Min Khin used the court to confiscate the hotel from me,” she said, referring to Mr Khin’s role in brokering the sale to Alexson.

“I strongly believe Prime Min­ister Hun Sen, [President of the Senate] Chea Sim, and [Pre­si­dent of the National Assembly] Heng Samrin will solve the problem for me, not the court,” she added.

 

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