Imprisoned former Ambassador Suth Dina appeared in the Supreme Court yesterday to challenge the procedures of the Appeal Court, where he attempted to get his five-year sentence for “abuse of power” and “unlawful exploitation” overturned in August.
The former envoy to South Korea was convicted in December 2016 and sentenced to five years in prison in a trial that made no mention of the vast sums of money, gold and gems that Dina was accused of possessing after his arrest by the Anti-Corruption Unit, an exclusion upon which he said he would base his appeal.
Lawyers for Dina, Kim Mengkhy and Oa Piseth, claimed that Dina had sought to challenge his conviction at the Appeal Court, but during the trial hearing in August Dina was informed that the two other lawyers he had hired were not allowed to represent him. The Appeal Court said Dina had not submitted a document assigning Ang Udom and Ouk Phalla to represent him at the appeal hearing and then cancelled the hearing.
Mengkhy yesterday said he would not only challenge the procedural irregularity, but added that he would also request the Supreme Court allow Dina to get medical treatment.
“I want the presiding council to consider on the decision of the Appeal Court and also that my client has high blood pressure, cholesterol and hyperacidity,” Mengkhy said.
Supreme Court Presiding Judge Kem Sathavy maintained Dina had not submitted a letter informing the Appeal Court of his legal representation, with Prosecutor Chan Dara Raksmey agreeing with the judge.
“There is no letter from the suspect to the lawyers to represent him. Therefore, the Appeal Court has decided properly and I would like to uphold the verdict the same,” Dara Raksmey said.
Dina maintained his innocence and suggested that he was framed by his subordinates at the embassy.
At the time of his arrest, the Ant-Corruption Unit claimed that the investigation of Dina was sparked by complaints by Foreign Ministry staffers and migrant workers, and centred on hiring unofficial staffers and misappropriating state funds.
Dina said he had met with lawyers representing him in the Appeal Court and had thumbprinted a letter allowing them to represent him. Udom, one of the lawyers, yesterday said the court should not have accepted the case if they found the documentation incomplete. Instead, they brought it up on the day of the hearing, he said.
“Why did they not tell us to correct it then, but left it for a month and opened the trial and then said that it was a wrong procedure?” he asked.