Tycoon Chhin “Crocodile Grandmother” Sokountheary, has submitted an appeal protesting the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision to throw out her abuse-of-power complaint against former Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema, her attorney said yesterday.
Sok Sam Oeun, who represents Sokountheary, said he had submitted the paperwork to the Appeal Court last Thursday, asking it to move forward on her complaint. The appeal filing contested municipal court deputy prosecutor Meas Chan Piseth’s decision to drop the case – the reasons for which the court had yet to provide him, despite multiple requests, Sam Oeun said.
“I have asked the court for a copy of the deputy prosecutor’s decision to not take action on my client’s complaint,” Sam Oeun said. “I went to the court almost every day, but I could not get one. I don’t know why they won’t allow me to have a copy of it.”
Sokountheary submitted her complaint against Chuktema and his alleged accomplices from abroad on March 18, accusing the then governor of abusing his power by falsifying documents that reclassified more than 34 hectares of land Sokountheary had legally bought as state-owned land, then subsequently confiscating it. She was later sentenced in absentia to four years for illegally occupying the land, despite having long maintained she had documents proving ownership.
Chuktema could not be reached yesterday, but his lawyer, Yim Sary, said “the reason the prosecutor has dropped her complaint is that she did not come to meet him” in person – which, he maintained, is required under the penal code.
Sam Oeun refuted Sary’s reasoning, arguing that persons who cannot appear in person are routinely represented solely by their lawyers.