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Journalist sued for fraud

Two families in R'kiri accuse reporter of extorting $6,000.

AJOURNALIST from the Cheat Sachak newspaper in Ratanakkiri province is being sued for fraud and extortion by two Bar Keo district families who say they paid him US$6,000 because he promised to intervene on their behalf in a pair of criminal cases.

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said the two families, who are ethnic minorities and speak only limited Khmer, came to his office on Monday for help filing the lawsuits. He said they told him that the journalist, Nuon Yuth, first contacted them in early 2008 and promised to secure the release of their jailed relatives.

Pen Bonnar said one of the families paid Nuon Yuth $1,000 to help free their two nephews, who had been held in prison while awaiting trial on a robbery charge. Pen Bonnar said the case has yet to go to trial more than two years after the original crime was committed, and that one of the nephews has since died in prison.

In the second case, Nuon Yuth is accused of taking $5,000 from a family who asked him to press the Ratanakkiri provincial court to retry a case involving four men who were convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Nuon Yuth denied the extortion and fraud charges on Monday, telling the Post, "I know nothing about the allegations from these families. I would never do that as a journalism professional."

Billboard dispute
Also in Ratanakkiri, an opposition council member was questioned by provincial prosecutors on Monday over a dispute that arose after his party installed a billboard on private land.

Chorng Lip Chhun, a local villager, accused Sam Rainsy Party provincial council member La Bunseng of erecting a billboard on his land without obtaining permission.

Deputy Prosecutor Ros Saram said Monday that he had decided to let the two parties resolve the issue out of court.

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