The lawyer representing a woman involved in a land dispute and corruption case against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cousin, Di Prem, and a former high-ranking government official, Seng Yean, called on the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday to accelerate the pair’s much-delayed trial.
Kao Ty also alleged that the trial’s numerous delays were because of Di Prem’s link to the Prime Minister and said this was damaging the livelihood of his client, Huot Sarom, a resident of the capital’s Dangkor district.
“It’s been more than two years since charges have been filed against these two suspects, but the court still has yet to make any decision other than ordering repeated investigations,” Kao Ty told the Post yesterday.
“This delay is adversely affecting my client’s living situation. As a result, I’m appealing to the court to accelerate the process and set the trial date as early as possible so that justice can be found for my client,” he added.
The dispute began with a 2008 directive issued by the Council of Ministers ordering that 120 families be allowed to remain on six hectares of land in Kakab commune, despite Huot Sarom’s claims of ownership.
Controversy later emerged when Seng Yean, deputy director general of inspection at the Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations, was accused of accepting a US$200,000 bribe from Di Prem on behalf of the families.
Seng Yean was removed from his position in July 2009 and he and Di Prem were charged over the alleged bribe by the court on August 7 of that year.
The case has encountered multiple delays since then, the latest coming in May of this year when presiding judge Duch Kimsorn called for further investigation.
Kao Ty said yesterday that he submitted a formal letter of request to the court, dated September 1, asking for the trial to begin again.
Presiding judge Seng Neang confirmed receipt of Kao Ty’s request and said that the case would begin before the end of this year.
“The case is currently being re-investigated and that investigation has not yet been completed. I expect the trial to start in November or December,” he said yesterday.
If found guilty, Seng Yean faces between three and seven years in prison, while Di Prem faces between one and three years.