The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction has not yet responded in the case of Nouv Sat, a land official at Kandal provincial department of land management who is suspected of colluding to sell 83ha of people’s land.
The lack of response is despite the Ministry of Justice having asked it to take legal action following the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s request.
The court’s deputy prosecutor Ngin Pich had reported to Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana about the alleged collusion by Sat in making fake documents to sell the 83ha.
The report was made so that Vong Vathana could forward the matter to the Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara so that appropriate responses could be received according to the law.
The allegations of collusion stem from a complaint from four plaintiffs – Eang Mengkhim, 44; Prak Lim, 49; Theng Kimsay, 50 and Kol Chansovatha, 50, who hail from Phnom Penh and Kandal province.
They had written a joint letter which they sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on June 10 this year claiming that in 2007 and 2008, they had jointly bought 83ha in Choeung Prey village and Tadorl village, in Kandal Stung district’s Ampov Prey commune in Kandal province.
They claimed to have received documents to transfer the land and a receipt for the sum paid, which was all officially recognised by village and commune authorities.
Their letter said that on November 10, 2015, Nouv Phearum and his nine accomplices colluded to forge their thumbprints in the ownership documents of a rice field.
They alleged that this was coordinated by Sat who facilitated forged thumbprints, with the result that their land was sold to Yem Rachana and a land title was issued to him even though they had filed a complaint against the issuing of such title.
“Currently, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court is working to issue a warrant to arrest Nouv Phearum for forging documents, so we ask the prosecutor to charge the offender according to the law. We demand the land back with $400,000 compensation,” the complainants’ letter read.
Sat could not be contacted for comment on Thursday.
On June 3, this year, Pich had questioned Sat on allegations of colluding to forge documents, and use and sell land that did not belong to him.
Pich’s letter to Vong Vathana was dated July 19 and seen by The Post on Thursday.
In the letter, he said he had already checked and solved the criminal case on April 10, this year, after receiving the complaint against Sat, who was a former Kandal Stung district employee and currently a Kandal provincial department of Land Management official.
Pich continued that the prosecutor had conducted the initial investigation and found a clue which made him suspect that Sat was indeed involved in colluding to make fake documents and illegally sell property in Choeung Prey village and Tadorl village in Ampov Prey commune, in Kandal Stung district in 2015.
The property, Pich said, did not belong to Sat.
“Therefore, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor decided to convene a hearing to question Sat over fraud allegations under Article 626 and 627 of the Criminal Code. A warrant to this effect was issued on July 19 this year.”
Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said on Thursday that law enforcement is decided by the court. Any allegation will be sent to the investigating judge, but even he or she cannot conclude the matter as a criminal case since at that stage it is still an accusation that warrants an investigation.
He said as a matter of principle, in any case related to government officials, the prosecutor must inform and report to the Ministry of Justice so that the minister can forward the report to the ministry responsible for the accused, in this case, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.
Malin said: “Any law enforcement will be preceded by the court. In case they cannot see any evidence showing that Sat committed the crime, the complaint against Sat will be dropped.”
Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction spokesman Seng Lot and Kandal provincial department of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction head, Lim Chan Sophy, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.