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Official in land dispute with PM’s sister arrested

Santuk District Deputy Governor Im Chhorn (right) is escorted into Prey Sar prison last week in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied
Santuk District Deputy Governor Im Chhorn (right) is escorted into Prey Sar prison last week in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Official in land dispute with PM’s sister arrested

A deputy district governor in Kampong Thom has been charged with fraud over a $2 million land deal with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sister, Hun Seng Ny, a court official said yesterday.

Im Chhorn, the deputy governor of Santuk district, was arrested last week following a complaint lodged by the prominent businesswoman and has been detained in Prey Sar prison to await trial, according to Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Y Rin.

Chhorn was charged with fraud on Thursday and now faces up to three years in jail, the spokesman said, for allegedly failing to deliver a land title to Seng Ny after striking a deal in 2015 to provide 1,500 hectares of land in exchange for more than $2 million.

According to local media reports, Chhorn claimed he had bought the land and transferred the documents marking the sale to Seng Ny last year but that the title had not been arranged yet because Land Ministry officials were preoccupied with the June 4 commune elections.

Santuk District Governor Yuos Panharith yesterday repeated this defence and said that the land itself had already been handed to Seng Ny. “I do not know [why Chhorn was accused], because the 1,500 hectares of land were given to Hun Seng Ny already by Im Chhorn’s team and at this time, her company is developing on the land,” he said.

Seng Ny could not be reached for comment.

San Chey, head of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said he believed that government officials should not act as brokers in private land transfers because it could create a a conflict of interest when they or their colleagues are called upon to resolve such disputes.

“I think that if the case is related to the individual interest, and in case it relates to the power abuse, it could fall under the case of corruption too,” Chey said.

“I think government officials should stay away from this case. Because of their power, their position may affect the decision-making of the citizens.”

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