The long-awaited conclusion of a corruption case against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cousin Di Prem and former high-ranking government official Seng Yean was delayed yesterday when judge Duch Kimsorn said the case required further investigation.
Businesswoman Di Prem is alleged to have paid a US$200,000 bribe to Seng Yean, formerly the deputy director-general of inspection at the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations, in an attempt to influence investigations into her land dispute with plaintiff Huot Sarom.
Judge Duch Kimsorn told the municipal court that key elements of the case had not been sufficiently examined by police, the prosecutor and the investigating judge, and would have to be re-investigated.
“The decision is to reinvestigate this case, to research the contractual letters and other documents related to the land sale as well as other necessary documents in order to find the truth of the case before it is put for a future rehearing,” he said.
Evidence used against the defendants, he said, failed to meet the required burden of proof. He therefore appointed Judge Seng Neang to lead the re-investigation.
Kao Ty, the lawyer for Huot Sarom, who alleges that Di Prem stole more than five hectares of land in 2008 that she had owned in Dangkor district’s Kakab commune since 1979, said the decision to re-investigate the case was a trick to allow the dropping of the charges.
“If the court doesn’t drop its changes against these two people and takes action through legal procedures, I think that it will become a good start to combating corruption as well as to promoting the rule of law and judicial reforms in Cambodia,” he said.
Khieu Sophal, the lawyer for Di Prem and Seng Yean, both of whom failed to appear yesterday, welcomed the decision to re-investigate the case.
The trial of the pair was repeatedly delayed after investigations concluded in June 2010, prompting Kao Ty to send reams of letters to the Ministry of Justice, the investigating judge and the Anticorruption Unit requesting that they speed up the case.
Hun Sen said last year that his cousin should face the full force of the law if found guilty of any wrongdoing. She faces up to three years in jail if convicted, while Seng Yean could receive seven.