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

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer