The Supreme Court vindicated two lower courts’ decisions yesterday, ruling that ex-Southeast Asia TV director-general Sem Sovandeth was indeed guilty of damaging public property and clearing a conservation area in Kampot province in 2005.
That same year, the Kampot Provincial Court sentenced Sovandeth to eight years in prison and a 20 million riel [about $5,000] fine.
At Sovandeth’s March 20 hearing, Pot Phanal, the plaintiff and deputy chief of Kampot’s Forestry Administration, testified the former executive had cleared 138 hectares of a wildlife sanctuary with the aim of building a business, despite repeated demands to stop.
At the time, Sovandeth’s defence attorney said his client had bought the land from its current inhabitants in a transaction recognised by authorities in positions as high as the provincial level.
Sovandeth is also serving a three-year sentence for embezzling $7 million from the television station he managed.