AFTER months of anticipation and worry, Keo Sovannavuth finally won a victory
last week at the Court of Appeal.
The 40-year-old widow was returned to
her home of 19 years after the court ruled she was the rightful occupant and
owner of the ground floor of a property on Street 63 in Phnom Penh.
upstairs neighbors, the Uch Yan family, had claimed that they owned the whole
building and embarked on a campaign of verbal abuse, intimidation and physical
assaults to drive Sovannavuth from the house. Sovannavuth said the Uch Yan
family threw household refuse into her yard and at one stage she was beaten by
one of the sons.
Sovannavuth had been originally given the house by the
police in exchange for the villa she was living at in 1980.
When the case
was heard in August last year at the Phnom Penh Municpal Court she produced in
evidence all the paper work from 1980 and among her witnesses was the Sangkum
chief who had witnessed the original transaction 19 years ago.
the hearing Sovannavuth said she was told that the judge wanted a bribe of
$8,000 for ruling in her favor - money that she just didn't have. So she lost
the case and her home.
Although she says she is pleased with the appeal
court result, Sovannavuth is still concerned the matter might drag
The judge gave the Uch Yan family two months to appeal the case to
the Supreme Court, so now she fears that the new appeals judge will be receptive
"I am still worried that the judge will want money to make a
judgment in my favor. But I pray that he will be as fair as the judge in the
first appeal court," Sovannavuth says.
So far, the Uch Yan family has not
filed an appeal, but Sovannavuth has no hope that her upstairs neighbors will
let the case rest.
"They were very angry when I won the case, so I'm sure
they will file a complaint," she predicts.