Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Former envoy to SK given 5 years

Former envoy to SK given 5 years

Suth Dyna, former Cambodian ambassador to South Korea, was sentenced to five years’ jail and a 5 million-riel fine at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.
Suth Dyna, former Cambodian ambassador to South Korea, was sentenced to five years’ jail and a 5 million-riel fine at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Hong Menea

Former envoy to SK given 5 years

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday handed Suth Dina, the former Cambodian ambassador to South Korea, a five-year prison sentence and a fine of almost $2,500 for “abuse of power” and “unlawful exploitation” committed during his stint in Seoul from 2014 to 2016.

The brief hearing, however, made no mention of vast sums of money, gold and gems that Dina was accused of possessing after his arrest by the Anti-Corruption Unit, which began investigating the 45-year-old in March – and the disgraced diplomat noted the exclusion as he vowed to appeal.

Judge Koa Vandy convicted Dina under Article 35 of the corruption law, which concerns abuse of power, and Criminal Code articles 597 and 598, which deal with unlawful exploitation, and the judge said the acts had occurred at the embassy. Vandy said the court would keep documents and plane tickets seized from Dina, but return four mobile phones, an iPad and cash in riel, US dollars and South Korean won.

Dina’s attorney, Hok Phalla, rejected the verdict and sentence, saying his client had sought permission for all his decisions and appointments in Seoul with his superiors. “There was no serious point proving there was a serious abuse of power, as I studied the case and all documents,” Phalla said. “He worked based on the administration norms.”

Dina, a former anti-government student activist and politician who defected to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in 2009, came under investigation soon after drawing criticism for his hardline rhetoric against opposition supporters in South Korea, who he threatened to deport.

He also drew rebukes for alluding to work he said he had carried out with South Korean authorities to track illegal migrants and political dissidents, an operation Korean officials said they had never heard of.

At the time of his repatriation and arrest, ACU President Om Yentieng said the probe into Dina was sparked by complaints by Foreign Ministry staffers and migrant workers. During the investigation, it was claimed Dina had hired unofficial staffers and misappropriated state funds.

However, the most extraordinary allegation concerned wealth purportedly hoarded by Dina, with Yentieng saying the envoy was in possession of $7.2 million in cash, 12.7 kilograms of gold, 10 large plots of land and 500 gems.

Since the allegation, officials have provided no further information about the massive wealth, which Dina’s family denied he possessed. Speaking with reporters briefly after his guilty verdict, Dina yesterday vowed to appeal and appeared to question the evidentiary basis for the verdict against him.

“As noted in court, was anything seized?” he asked. Dina’s family declined to comment to reporters on the verdict, but his wife, Sokun Mealea, called the verdict “unacceptable” after it was read aloud. Phalla, Dina’s attorney, said
that the prosecutors, lacking evidence, had not brought charges over the alleged cash and jewellery stash.

Yentieng, the ACU chief, was unreachable.

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in