Despite Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cousin Dy Proem being sentenced in absentia last month to two and a half years in prison, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court was under no obligation to issue a warrant for her arrest, a judge said yesterday.
In an interview with the Post, Seng Neang, a judge at the court, defended the decision not to have Dy Proem and co-defendant Seng Yean arrested – even though almost a month had passed since their sentencing.
“Based on article 353 of Cambodia’s Criminal Code, the court can issue a warrant for the arrest of those who have been tried and sentenced to one year’s jail or more,” Seng Neang said. “But this article does not state that the court must issue warrants for their arrests.”
Ou Virak, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said it was “definitely wrong” that a convicted criminal did not have to be arrested, but instances of warrants not being issued for criminals in cases connected to the prime minister were not unusual.
“But this won’t cause uproar with the [general public], because this is happening far too often,” he said.
A case like this would put the judge and other court officials under a lot of pressure, Ou Virak said.
“I don’t think the judge wants to go ahead and make a decision about this. I think the court officials are waiting for cues from government officials about how to act.
“This is not unusual for cases connected directly to the prime minister.”
Kao Ty, the lawyer representing Huoth Sarom, who says she owns the land Dy Proem fraudulently acquired, complained to the court yesterday that his client had not been told if she would get the land back or be offered compensation for losing it.
Seng Neang defended the verdict. “Huoth Sarom’s case was not involved in this case, so the court could not address or handle anything for her,” he said.