The lawyer of a 70-year-old widow whose land was stolen by a cousin of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Dy Proem, has filed a letter to the National Assembly’s human rights committee asking the body to help speed up the long-stalled case. Dy Proem was sentenced in absentia in 2011, but never arrested.
Huoth Sarom first filed her complaint against Proem in 2009, alleging that she had paid civil servant Seng Yean $200,000 to forge a document granting her ownership of 5.6 hectares of land actually owned by Sarom. After multiple delays, a trial in 2011 found that the two were indeed guilty of the crime. Proem was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and Yean to four and a half years.
However, Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Seng Neang has since declined to issue arrest warrants for the pair. The judge said that while the court has the ability to issue the warrants they are not under any legal obligation to do so.
“My client had submitted her lawsuit against Seng Yean and Dy Proem to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in 2009, and until now, the court still has not found justice for her,” Kao Ty, Sarom’s attorney, said.
In its 2011 decision, the court also declined to say whether Sarom’s land would be returned, or whether she would be compensated for its loss, a situation that has imposed considerable hardships on her, Ty said.
In the meantime, Proem was granted the honorific of oknha in June 2013, even as Sarom’s appeal against her languishes.
“I would like to ask the chairman of the [human rights commission] of the National Assembly to intervene in this to the Ministry of Justice in order to push the Appeal Court to hear the case as soon as possible,” Ty said.
Commission head and opposition lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang yesterday confirmed his receipt of the complaint. “I am now still working on this case,” he said. “I am going to write to the minister of Justice to examine this case soon.”
Lawyers for Proem and Yean could not be reached for comment yesterday.