A Change of Guard

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Sunday, 19 June 2016

Corruption case over cleared forest upheld

Fri, 17 June 2016 ppp
Kim Sarom

The Appeals Court yesterday upheld a ruling by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in June 2015 that 14 villagers, officials and public servants from Kampong Thom’s Stoung district were guilty of corruption in relation to the clearing of state-protected flooded forests in 2012.

The 14 were all sentenced to between one and five years in jail for either bribery or receiving bribes to allow the clearing of the forests in order to dig a reservoir to irrigate dry season rice planting.

Among those appealing their sentences were district police chief Yorng Som, District Governor Prim Ratha and former provincial water resources department director Cheath Sivutha.

Judge Chan Madina said that following a hearing on May 18 she had decided to uphold the convictions of all 14 appellants, none of whom were in court yesterday.

“The decision has been upheld because according to the answers of the suspects they acted exactly as charged,” she said.

Contacted yesterday, Som, who is still out on bail, denied any wrongdoing, pointing the finger at Ratha, who declined to comment.

“I was not involved in this case, but the Stoung district governor was involved,” said Som.

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