Villagers Demanding Compensation From Charged Prosecutor

Villagers from Banteay Meanchey province who were accused of property destruction by former provincial judge Tob Chan Sereivuth in 2008 said yesterday they would file a complaint at Pursat Provincial Court on Friday demanding compensation from their accuser, who is currently in jail facing corruption charges.

Mr Chan Sereivuth, who moved to a prosecutor position at Pursat Provincial Court in 2008, issued arrest warrants in 2008 for 22 villagers involved in a decade-long land dispute between 170 families and the National Development Agriculture Association in Banteay Meanchey’s O’Chrou district.

Four men were charged over the matter, and when Mr Chan Sereivuth moved to Pursat he organized for the case to be transferred to his new jurisdiction and for the four suspects to be transferred to Pursat Provincial Prison.

Ouk Sophan, secretary-general of the NDAA, confirmed in February 2009 that Mr Chan Sereivuth was to receive 2 hectares of land after the dispute was resolved, but the Pursat court eventually discharged itself of the case because the dispute was situated outside its jurisdiction. The four suspects were subsequently bailed.

Chea Sitha, 55, one of the suspects who served more than five months at Pursat Provincial Prison, said yesterday that he and the three other men who had been charged and detained were seeking $10,000 each from Mr Chan Sereivuth. The remaining 18 suspects were seeking $5,000 each, Mr Sitha said.

“This ex-prosecutor has committed a lot of corruption, so he deserves to pay for what he has done illegally,” he said, adding the villagers’ complaint would also be sent to the Anticorruption Unit.

Pursat Provincial Court acting prosecutor You Yinny said the villagers were welcome to lodge their complaint. But he added it was too early to determine whether any compensation claim would proceed against Mr Chan Sereivuth, who was arrested by Anticorruption Unit officials on Nov 29 on extortion charges.

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court prosecutor So Vath said the court had still not decided whether complaints against the O’Chrou district villagers would proceed. He said Judge Im Vannak would make a decision on whether to dismiss the charges next week.

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