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Colonel faces trial for ‘violating school lease’

A military police colonel who owns a nine-storey building in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district was tried in absentia at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for allegedly violating the lease of a vocational school – owned by an even higher-ranking police official – that was renting the property.

Presiding judge Ly Lip Meng said that National Police Colonel Hoy Heang, 58, had been charged with breach of trust and aggravated theft after being sued in early 2013 by Lieutenant General Run Rathveasna, 47, a senior police official at the Ministry of Interior, and the owner and president of the vocational training centre International Standard School (ISS).

“Hoy Heang got angry with Run Rathveasna for not paying the fees for his building’s rent for ISS for two months, so he put an end to the contract with ISS unilaterally,” Lip Meng said.

“He also collected ISS’s other valuable things in building to pay for the rent debt.”

Rathveasna told the court yesterday that he made a contract with Heang to lease the building in early 2012. He signed a 10-year lease, he added, and paid a $90,000 deposit, as well as the $6,000-a-month rent for nine months.

On December 1, 2012, however, ISS ran short of money, and the school missed two months of payments, Rathveasna continued. Heang then immediately ended the contract, and removed the building’s doors, tables and other valuable fixtures that Rathveasna had installed, though Rathveasna maintained that the lease agreement set forth a three-month grace period for the school.

“To compensate for my damages, I am demanding him to pay me $331,700 for the loss of my school’s property, and am demanding another $150,000 in compensation,” Rathveasna said.

Heang did not attend yesterday’s hearing and could not be reached for comment. However, his defence lawyer, Chhith Boravuth, asked that the charges be dropped and defended his client’s actions, saying Heang had ended the contract because ISS was bankrupt and couldn’t pay its bills.

The court will hand down a verdict on April 7.

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