The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday convicted local tycoon Chhin Sokountheary of encroaching on public lands and sentenced her in absentia to four years and six months in prison.
The court also ruled that Sokountheary, who has remained in France since being charged by the court in September, pay a 30 million riel ($7,500) fine and another 60 million riels ($15,000) in compensation to the Phnom Penh Municipality.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Ly Lipmeng said yesterday that Sokountheary, who is also known as Yeay Kraper, or “crocodile grandmother,” was convicted as director of Layimex Holding Group with clearing more than 33 hectares of state land and filling in more than 300 square metres of the Pong Peay Lake in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district in August.
“It is ordered that she be arrested and brought to Prey Sar Correctional Center 2,” Lipmeng said.
Sokountheary maintains that her company purchased the land from local villagers in 1999 and has since paid taxes on it, but the government reclassified the area in July as state land and subsequently accused her of hindering its measurement.
While defence lawyer Suong Sophal said he accepted the verdict, his colleague, Ly Ratha, said he would appeal.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at firstname.lastname@example.org