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Three on trial over ‘bribery’

Three people, including a former court clerk, stood trial yesterday, accused of unlawfully using court positions to conduct threats and bribery in Banteay Manchey province last year.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge Sous Sam Ath said former clerk at Banteay Meanchey provincial court Suong Sok Heng, 22, and Sem Sokha, 42, were arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), while being handed $3,000 by Muon Sineth, 39, to settle a car crash with Sokha, in which four of Sokha’s passengers were injured.

The ACU detained Cambodian-Australian Uy Sopheap, 69, when he handed over a bribe of $500 to Sok Heng in November.

“Sokha threatened us, [saying] that she was the older sister of … the provincial court prosecutor. She demanded … $16,800 from us for the damages,” Sineth told the court yesterday.

After begging to lower the sum, she was asked to speak to court clerk Sok Heng, who “threatened to arrest and jail my husband if I would not pay $16,800 as demanded”, she said.

Eight months later, a reduction to $3,000 was accepted. Meanwhile, Sineth filed a complaint with the ACU.

The three denied all allegations. Sok Heng, “charged with receiving bribes and power violation”, maintained he had acted upon order of his supervisor, the court prosecutor. He claimed to have received $500 from Sopheap for preparing court documents. The verdict is due on March 26.

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