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Court gives village chief jail sentence

Court gives village chief jail sentence

Two men, including a local official, were sentenced to a year in prison on Tuesday for clearing privately owned land to construct an office building in Siem Reap nearly two years ago, their lawyer said yesterday.

Village chief Than Som, 51, and Nhek Ork, 51, were both convicted by the provincial court despite their legal representative’s claims that they were granted permission to build by Siem Reap city Governor Tep Bun Chhay.

The governor supported the defence in a statement submitted to the court in April, which says both men had been operating with his permission to clear what all three believed to be government property.

The owner of the disputed area, Prom Lang, has yet to file any complaints or charges, according to Bun Chhay. But Som and Ork have been ordered to each pay $500 to the villager who filed the initial complaint in 2012, a decision their lawyer said they would appeal. Provincial deputy prosecutor Chhou Sophanha could not be reached.

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