The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday concluded the trial of a former consular official with the Foreign Ministry accused of falsifying government documents to facilitate the sale of millions of dollars' worth of luxury timber to Vietnam when he was stationed in Ho Chi Minh City between 2012 and 2014.
During his closing remarks, prosecutor Kham Sophary maintained that “the prosecution has found that there is enough [to meet the] burden of proof that [defendant] Taing Sok Ngy – while he served as the general consul for the Cambodian embassies in Vietnam – really produced the fake documents and signed those fake documents to allow the prohibited luxury wood to be imported from Cambodia”.
But under questioning by the prosecution and the bench yesterday, Sok Ngy, also known as Sokly, 38, deflected blame for the forgeries to his co-defendants – Heng Ly, La On, Vann Sok Minh and Chun Thanh – who are being tried in absentia.
“I received those documents from Mr La On and Mr Heng Ly. They asked me to make diplomatic notes [for them] to import 1,000 cubic metres of luxury wood . . . I just made the diplomatic notes for them and sent it to the related Vietnamese ministries,” Sok Ngy testified.
Sok Ngy said he didn’t know the documents he was asked to sign were fake until his arrest.
Police have said their investigation found that the documents had been forged by On and Ly – though Heng Ly is likely an alias – then taken to Sok Ngy for approval.
However, Chum Veasna, the defence lawyer for four tried in absentia, maintained there was “no real evidence” against his clients, and asked the charges be dropped.
A verdict is due on October 30.