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Rice boss in pre-trial detention ‘13 months’

2 jailed for 13 months without trial Kongkea

The general director of a local rice wholesaler accused of defrauding business associates in a deal has lashed out at the judiciary – claiming delays in legal processing have left him imprisoned for 13 months without trial.

The Post met with Ros Sovann Veasna, 35, of Rice Natural International Group, at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday.

It was his ninth sojourn to court from PJ prison expecting to stand trial – and again he was turned away after being told judges were busy.

“So far, I have been jailed for about 13 months,” he said. “I am not a convicted criminal. Why has the court taken so long time to hold my trial?”

Sovann Veasna is accused of cheating three businessmen – Keo Remy, who is also vice-chairman of the government’s Press and Quick Reaction Unit; Chhim Narith, Remy’s brother-in-law; and Un Somalea – in three Siem Reap land deals amounting to $150,000 in 2009.

The trio say they handed over the money only to find the land was already occupied and they had signed bogus documents.

When contacted, Remy said his deal was worth $50,000. “Veasna sold his land to me, but after I handed over the money and went to check on the land, I found out it already belonged to someone else,” he added.

Sovann Veasna said he had been wrongly accused and appealed to the authorities last month for a swift trial but has not heard from them since.

The Post tried contacting Leang Sam Nath, the judge handling the case, and Chiv Keng, president of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, yesterday – but neither could be reached.

Sovann Veasna’s defence lawyer, He Chiv Eng, said he had written letters to Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vattana as well as King Norodom Sihamoni, the president of the Supreme Council of Magistracy and Cambodian Human Rights Committee president Om Yentieng.

“This is a civil case,” said Chiv Eng. “This detaining of my client in prison without trial is illegal. I request the court release my client.”

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