Review of Ho Sok Land Case Ordered by Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice on Friday asked the Supreme Court to review its decision concerning the estate of late Funcinpec stalwart Ho Sok. In April, the court awarded 13.3 hec­t­ares of land in Kandal province formerly belonging to the royalist In­terior Ministry official to 33 families, claiming that his widow had abandoned ownership rights when she fled to the US in the wake of his 1997 assassination.

The ministry’s intervention was made under recommendation from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Ca­b­­­­i­net after receiving letters of complaint sent in June by Mr Sok’s parents, who claimed the Supreme Court’s April 25 ruling was based on forged documents, ministry officials said Friday. According to the 2007 civil code procedure, the justice minister can request the court to review the case if new exculpatory evidence emerges.

In the letter, Mr Sok’s parents allege that their son’s land was stolen by former Kandal deputy governor Prak Savuth and Khlork Pros—an assistant to Mr Sok—and later sold to 33 wealthy families.

Citing irregularities in the documents provided by a representative of the 33 families, which the Su­preme Court used in its decision, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana called on the court to retry the case.

“Normally, after receiving any com­­plaints, the ministry always forwards them on at the complainant’s re­­quest,” Justice Ministry spokes­­man Bunyay Narin said Friday.

Since the Supreme Court’s April rul­­ing, Mr Sok’s family has been pushing for intervention. In May, Ms Sok filed at least six complaints in­cluding ones with the King, the UN and the AntiCorruption Unit. She also re­quested that the Constitu­­­tion­­al Coun­­cil weigh in on the constitutionality of the verdict. In June, Ms Kim filed a forgery complaint against Ros Roeun, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Dith Monty, president of the Su­preme Court, could not be reached for comment. Judge Sokhoeun said he did not see the letter but that if new and strong evidence were presented, the Su­preme Court would reconsider reversing its previous decision.

 

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