Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Commander escapes land-grabbing charges

Commander escapes land-grabbing charges

Commander escapes land-grabbing charges

After about seven months in pre-trial detention, former tank commander Ma Sobin walked free on Friday when the Supreme Court dropped land infraction and forgery charges laid on him by the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court.

Sobin, also known as Sok Ma, had been accused by his neighbour Va Roeun of encroaching on his land and forging ownership documents.

Last month, Roeun dropped his official complaint against Sobin after the defendant paid him 20,000 baht ($671) in an out-of-court settlement.

Presiding judge Khim Pon said the court had determined that there was now insufficient evidence to convict Sobin and, after a bail hearing on May 3, had also decided that the charges against him were of a civil nature.   

“Based on the hearing, the Supreme Court has found that this case was a civil one, and there was not enough proof to charge Ma Sobin as accused. What’s more, the plaintiff had already withdrawn his lawsuit,” Pon said.  

Sok Sam Oeun, head of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said that while he was not familiar with the specific case, charges under the Land Law – such as these – are typically both civil and criminal.

Pon added that Sobin had been arrested last November when his neighbour, Roeun, accused him of encroaching onto a 60-metre-by-200-metre section of his land.

Afterwards, Pon said, authorities discovered that Sobin had been “faking letters in public documents” in 2010 to establish ownership of the land.

Sobin had previously submitted, and been denied, bail requests to the provincial and appellate courts, Pon noted.

Roeun and his attorney could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sobin, likewise, could not be reached, but his lawyer, Ou Vuth, said the court’s decision had been “made with common sense and transparency”.

Regarding the accusations against his client, Vuth said that Sobin had bought the land and cultivated rice on it since 2001 without knowing that it “overlapped” the plaintiff’s plot.

Additional reporting by Stuart White

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all