The Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Nuon Pok, the former director of the Preah Sihanouk provincial Department of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction to seven years in prison and fined him 100 million riel ($25,000) for abuse of power and other corruption charges.

The court also seized three plots of his land for state property.

Pok was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) on March 1 at his house in Preah Sihanouk province and sent to the court on March 4.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Kuch Kimlong told The Post on November 18 the court decided to charge Pok on November 17 with abusing power, exploiting natural resources and providing and using fake documents.

“The accused has the right to file an appeal in the case if he is unsatisfied with this ruling,” he said.

Pok, 45, held the position of the director of the provincial land management department from 2016 to 2018.

According to an ACU report, the arrest came after the unit received complaints from victims accusing Pok of charging unlawful service fees. He allegedly charged $1,600 per land title and $1,000 to transfer ownership rights.

Pok was also accused of paying a bribe to get his position. During his tenure, he allegedly requested the removal of subordinate officials for no apparent reason. He denied all the allegations during questioning by the ACU.

Rights group Adhoc spokesman Soeng Sen Karuna applauded the court’s actions and said he wanted to see more measured taken against other corrupt officials who have committed illegal acts.

“[The courts] should investigate and research the case and take appropriate measures because it is something people and civil society organisations want to see,” he said.

Sen Karuna said the measures taken against the former official boost public trust and faith in law enforcement and government officials.

Pok is not the only official to go down recently. On February 27, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court also sentenced Pursat provincial land management department director Liem Bunroeun, his deputy and another official to eight years in prison for abusing power and misappropriating funds.

The three officials were apprehended by the ACU in July last year in Pursat province.