Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lawyer on trial for ‘bribe’

Lawyer on trial for ‘bribe’

Lawyer on trial for ‘bribe’

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard the case of a lawyer accused of attempting to bribe a judge, with whom he had never spoken, and despite his insistence that cash he had collected from his clients – who filed the corruption complaint against him – was payment for bail.

Attorney Pich Ratana, 43, said he was representing Sang Sary and her husband, Pam Sokna – who had been jailed over a case involving a plot of land in which Sary was also summonsed – when Sary begged him to secure bail for the couple.

“So, I told her to bring along an original [land title] to court for bail, but she didn’t have it,” Ratana told the court. “So, as a last resort, I told her to prepare money to put up for bail. I did not tell her to bribe the judge.”

Ratana said that on the day of his arrest, he met Sary at Olympic Stadium, where she forced him to accept $5,000, after which he was immediately arrested in an Anti-Corruption Unit sting. Sary was not present at court, but said in a statement that Ratana asked her to prepare money for the judge without clearly explaining it was for bail.

When pressed by prosecutor Ngin Pich, Ratana allowed that he “told [Sary], in the case the judge doesn’t agree on the bail, you can give the money to him to thank him, or whatever you want to do”.

ACU official Keo Neatmuny said an investigation corroborated that account, but did not accuse Ratana of discussing a bribe with the judge or offering to bribe the judge himself.

Judge Soreasey, meanwhile, was not called to testify. The Anti-Corruption Law defines an “attempt” as “commenc[ing] to commit the offense .  .  . with direct intention”. As Ratana had never spoken about a bribe to the judge, his defence argued, no crime had been committed.

Prosecutor Pich, however, maintained the advice that Sary could “thank the judge” if she chose constituted an attempted bribe. A verdict is due on December 30.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh

  • NOCC to contest petanque, tennis axe

    The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia will lobby hard over the next few weeks for the inclusion of the Kingdom’s most productive medal-earning sport, petanque, along with vovinam and tennis after the disciplines were left out of the initial list of 30 preferred sports for