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CNRP forest clearer’s jail term upheld

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Ouk Chetny (Second from left) and his father in law are photographed outside the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court in 2018. Supplied

CNRP forest clearer’s jail term upheld

The Appeal Court on Monday upheld the five-year sentence of a former CNRP commune chief in Preah Sihanouk province for cutting and clearing forest in 2018.

In the absence of the accused and his defence lawyer, Judge In Vanvibol read the verdict which said on December 11, the Appeal Court had heard the case against Ouk Chetny, 35, a former chief of commune I, in Preah Sihanouk.

After discussion, the judges decided not to reduce the five-year sentence meted out by the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court after he was charged with one count each of clearing the forest and illegally clearing the forest to grab as his personal property.

“It is right that the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court sentenced him to five years in jail, but two years are suspended. It’s legal under the law to do this,” he said.

Chetny’s defence lawyer Sam Sokong told The Post on Monday that he would appeal to the Supreme Court against the Appeal Court’s verdict.

“The verdict did not render justice for my client, and I will meet him to discuss it before filing a complaint to the Supreme Court,” he said.

At the hearing on December 11, Sokong requested the Appeal Court drop the charges and release his client.

According to the court record, at the trial in June last year, Chetny had told the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court that he, his wife and father-in-law Sam Sun visited a 50m by 100m plantation in Village I, Commune I, after he bought it from an elderly man named Bol for $3,000. Bol cleared the land for them and they planted some fruit trees.

The record added that Chetny claimed when he was collecting firewood at the plantation, soldiers appeared and arrested him. The soldiers gathered two chainsaws, a machete and a hoe as evidence in the arrest, but he claimed none of the items was his.

The provincial court charged him with illegally cutting and clearing the forest under Articles 56 and 62 of the Law on Nature Protection Area.

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