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Supreme court overturns decision for market owner

The Supreme Court yesterday overturned a controversial Court of Appeal ruling in the case of a Battambang market owner and his market stall tenants whose livelihoods were lost when the market burned down in 2009.

Presiding judge Dith Munty ruled So Phy, the owner of the market and the former chief of Sampov Loun district police, was not liable for the damage caused in the blaze, in Sampov Loun district.

One hundred market stall vendors sued So Phy for compensation for goods and property destroyed in the fire.

The provincial court decided at the time that So Phy was accountable for the losses and ordered the businessman to pay damages of 150 million riel (about US$40,000).

A year later, So Phy’s Court of Appeal application against the provincial court’s decis-ion was denied.

In 2011, he took his case to the Supreme Court.

“Based on the examination of evidence and documents, as well as the statements of the two parties, the Supreme Court has understood that the fire was caused by an acc-idental electrical explosion, which was not the responsibility of the accused,” Dith Munty said yesterday.

It was also revealed in court that the tenancy agreements had specifically absolved So Phy of liability for the safety and security of the merchandise of the stalls.

Speaking to the Post outside the courtroom, So Phy applauded the judgment.

“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has found justice for me,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at buthreaksmey.kongkea@phnompenhpost.com

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