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Chanaiwa has cause for celebration, sort of

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Phnom Penh’s Court of Appeal dropped an unsettled land-dispute charge against David Chanaiwa yesterday. Chanaiwa is currently awaiting trial for assualt charges filed earlier this month. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Disbarred lawyer and former Chea Sim adviser David Chanaiwa – currently awaiting trial for charges of assault – now has one less court case to worry about.

The Court of Appeal yesterday dropped charges of violence that were levelled against Chanaiwa in 2007 over a dispute in a Preah Sihanouk land deal.

Then, businessman Keo Savy had bought a 12-by-40-metre plot of land from Noav Bora, a business associate. Upon inspection of the plot, however, he had found that Chanaiwa’s men were building a fence on the land.

Savy made a report to the police, who told the group to stop working – but they refused.

Chanaiwa, a Cambodian-American investor, was not present in court yesterday, but the court clerk read out a statement he had written claiming he had bought the land for $3,000 but had “lost the contract”.

“I have not grabbed this land, I just fenced my land. I suggest the court acquit me, because I have not committed the crime as accused,” the statement read.

After Chanaiwa’s statement was read, presiding judge Chan Madina told the court there was no violence involved in the case and threw out the conviction made by the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court in 2011.

In 2011, the provincial court sentenced Chanaiwa in absentia to a year in prison and fined him 20 million riel ($5,000) – but until his arrest in March this year for assaulting a group of journalists, Chanaiwa had not spent a day in prison.

Chanaiwa is currently being detained in Prey Sar prison and awaiting trial along with his 20-year-old nephew, Ma Ou Fie.

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