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Court rules in tycoon’s favour

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday ruled in favour of a mining tycoon and convicted a Chinese-Cambodian widow of defaming the oknha during an embittered land dispute.

Sok Neang Gek, 46, an interpreter at a garment factory in the capital, was fined $1,000 and ordered to compensate Nim Meng, deputy commander of the prime minister’s bodyguard unit and a personal assistant to Hun Sen, $5,000.

“The court has found that Sok Neang Gek is not guilty of providing fake proof of owning about 10 hectares of land,” presiding judge Kim Dany said. “But the court has found that she is guilty of defaming Oknha Nim Meng’s honour.”

Meng’s defence lawyer, Bun Kong, said his client sued after Neang Gek made accusations in the Koh Santepheap newspaper that the tycoon grabbed 10 hectares of her Sihanoukville property in 2011.

“She has also reported this to [Hun Sen’s wife] . . . and asked [her] to tell it to Samdech Hun Sen,” Kong said.

Meng allegedly purchased 46 hectares in Otres commune, in Preah Sihanouk’s Stung Hav district, in 2005. But Neang Gek’s late husband owned a supposedly overlapping plot of land in Otres, purchased in 1998.

In 2009, after her husband passed away, Neang Gek had the plot measured and the title was put in her name.

“But when my client, the provincial prosecutor and other relevant authorities came to implement the provincial court’s decision at the site, many armed forces, who were General Nim Meng’s soldiers and also Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguards, blocked them from entering,” defence lawyer Kea Chhay said.

According to the provincial cadastral department, Meng’s 46 hectares are not registered on the cadastral list.

“I think that this court’s decision was not justice for my niece. We will appeal it,” said Taing Kea, Neang Gek’s uncle who represented her in the court hearings, which she did not attend.

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