Renakse Hotel Lawsuit Reaches Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is reviewing a lawsuit that will likely decide the future of Phnom Penh’s colonial-era Renakse Hotel, parts of which are threatened with demolition, a court clerk said yesterday.

The court began reviewing the case earlier this month after the former hotel manager, Kem Chantha, appealed against a January decision by the Court of Appeal that annulled her lease, according to clerk Sok Phaly.

“The court has ordered Ms Chantha to submit a statement,” Mr Phaly said, adding that a hearing date had not been set.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court ruled in July 2009 that Ms Chantha had violated her contract by not appreciably renovating the historic building, which the CPP sold to local developer Alexson for $3.8 million in 2008. In January this year the Court of Appeal upheld this ruling, which included $30,000 in compensation for the CPP.

Ms Chantha had managed the Renakse Hotel since 1992 and held a 49-year-lease. Her staff and guests were forced in 2009 to leave the premises of the hotel, which was temporarily handed over to municipal authorities.

Ms Chantha said yesterday that she had written to Senate President Chea Sim, National Assembly President Heng Samrin and Prime Minister Hun Sen to ask for their intervention.

“I sent a request for each Samdech to intervene because I do not believe in the court system,” she said.

Khieu Sepphan, a lawyer for the CPP, confirmed that the appeal was being processed by the Supreme Court but declined to comment further.

Minister of Cults and Religions Min Khin, who has acted on behalf of the ruling party in the lawsuit, has said sections of the building will be torn down and redeveloped. Mr Khin could not be reached yesterday.

Earlier this month Ms Chantha paid a paperwork fee of $25 for the case, according to Mr Phaly, the clerk.

“The court had ordered Ms Kem Chantha to pay the fee for this case since last month, but the messenger could not find her address,” he said. “The court has just received this fee this month.”


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