The Appeal Court yesterday upheld a three-year prison sentence and an 8 million riel (about $2,000) fine handed down to the former director of the Preah Vihear tax office who was found to have absconded with about $9,000 in state funds.
Presiding judge Nguon Im said yesterday that he found the explanations made by defendant Chea Sophal, 44 – who has been in prison since his March 2012 arrest, but did not attend yesterday’s hearing – to be wanting, and reaffirmed the lower court’s decision.
“The suspect’s answers are just pretexts, so the court decided to uphold the Preah Vihear Provincial Court’s verdict,” he said.
Sophal’s lawyer, Muong Thuon Learphy, said she had not attended yesterday’s hearing either, but said that if the decision had been upheld, her client would surely appeal.
After receiving a complaint, the Anti-Corruption Unit found that Sophal had raised the taxes on 50 plots of land and pocketed the proceeds between 2009 and 2012.