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Journalist petitions ministry over courts’ ‘unfair’ rulings

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Pen Noun has filed a complaint against court officials over their rulings concerning his coverage of land disputes in Oddar Meanchey. SYTV

Journalist petitions ministry over courts’ ‘unfair’ rulings

A local journalist has filed a complaint with the Ministry of Justice against two judges and two deputy prosecutors, claiming that they were unfair in their handling of his coverage of land disputes with military officials.

Pen Nuon – a resident of Anlong Veng commune’s Romchek village in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district and director of a youth website – filed a complaint with the ministry on January 25.

According to the complaint, the four include former Oddar Meanchey Provincial Court Judge Sim Pichet; former Oddar Meanchey Provincial Court deputy prosecutor Kong Ratana; Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Ou Sopheak; and Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Oung Vuthea.

Nuon, 44, claimed that he was unjustly tried in absentia on January 6, following a complaint filed by Ouk Kimly, a two-star military general who sued him on December 17, 2020, for publishing information related to land issues.

He said the lawsuit was filed after he revealed “truthful” information about a land dispute between four families on an area of 6ha in Trapaing Brei commune’s Samaki village of Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district.

In the same complaint, he requested the intervention of the justice ministry.

“I am a victim. I was tried because I exposed two two-star military officials named Kimly and Yim Sen seizing land. The court has ordered me to pay compensation. This is unfair because I have enough documents and witness statements from the landowners to deny their claims.”

Nuon told The Post that the ministry had examined the documents and accepted his complaint, but he had not yet received a response. He hoped the ministry would intervene.

“My lawyer has already appealed the Oddar Meanchey case ... and has filed an appeal for a re-hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court because we were not given notice of the trial,” he added.

Provincial court spokesman Hal Chheng Hong told The Post that the decision was at the discretion of the judge.

He said he had not received a letter of intervention from the ministry as of January 26.

“The ministry has not yet sent a letter to the provincial court. If there is no letter, I have no basis for commenting,” he said.

Nuon described how on January 6, Judge Sopheak of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court ruled against him in absentia and ordered him to pay six million riel ($1,450) compensation to the plaintiff Kimly and a fine of three million riel.

Kimly sued him in the Oddar Meanchey Provincial Court and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court at the same time.

Judge Pichet and deputy prosecutor Ratana of the Oddar Meanchey court ordered him to pay 40 million riel in compensation to Kimly, 40 million riel to Sen and five million riel to the state.

Ministry secretary of state Chin Malin said briefly on January 26 that the ministry would conduct its own review.

The plaintiffs could not be reached for comment on the matter.

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