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Despite jail, village chief retains title

A village chief in Siem Reap who was sentenced on Tuesday to a year in prison for levelling private property to construct an office building will retain his position – at least until his appeal hearing is over, a commune official said yesterday.

Thang Som, 51, Phnom Krom village chief in Siem Reap district’s Siem Riep commune, and Nhek Ork, 51, were convicted by the provincial court, despite allegedly receiving permission from Siem Reap Governor Tep Bun Chhay to build on the land.

“If the Court of Appeal investigates and still convicts him [Som] to one year in jail, we will tell him to step down,” Oum Chat, Siem Reap commune chief, said.

Prom Lang, the landowner, has yet to file any complaint, while Som and Ork have each been ordered to pay $500 to the complainant, Mary Puth.

The dispute began in 2012 when Puth filed a complaint claiming the men destroyed trees on property she had been tending for five years.

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