The Phnom Penh Appeal Court on Monday upheld the eight-year prison sentence imposed on Liem Bunroeun, the former director of the Cadastral Department in Pursat Province for demanding $100,000 from a landowner in exchange for a construction permit.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court had previously found him guilty of the offence.

In court on Monday, presiding Judge Plong Samnang read the verdict in Bunroeun’s absence.

Judge Samnang said Bunroeun had requested a four-year reduction to his sentence and the cancellation of an eight million riel fine.

“The convict also asked [the Appeal Court] to reduce his sentence and not seize his property. But the court cannot consider it because the convict was charged with three counts.

“So, the Appeal Court upholds the sentence and the property seizures according to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court ruling,” he said.

A defence lawyer for Bunroeun who was absent at the Appeal Court could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Samnang said Bunroeun had one month to file an appeal with the Supreme Court.

Appeal Court records show Bunroeun was detained by police on July 27, last year, after a victim filed a complaint about him demanding $100,000 for a construction permit.

Later, police detained Pursat provincial Cadastral Department deputy director Cheang Vuthy and the official in charge of one-window services in the provincial hall Te Buntheng.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on February 27, this year, sentenced Bunroeun to eight years in prison on charges of misappropriating funds and ordered him to pay eight million riel to the State coffers.

Vuthy was sentenced to three years in prison and fined five million riel, while Buntheng got two years imprisonment and a five million riel fine. Vuthy and Buntheng were convicted of the same crimes as Bunroeun.

The records also showed that Bunroeun owned a house in Borey Peng Huoth in Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey commune, two houses in Pursat, two sport utility vehicles and a car.