Former Pursat prosecutor Top Chan Sereyvuth’s 19-year sentence, and those of his accomplices, were upheld yesterday by the Appeal Court.
Presiding judge Pol Samoeun concurred with the previous guilty verdict against Top Chan Sereyvuth, citing his brother-in-law and drivers’ use of his position as a provincial prosecutor to extort money.
In the first case investigated by the Anti-Corruption Unit, Top Chan Sereyvuth was arrested in 2010, along with his two drivers on charges of corruption, extortion and illegal human detention.
The former prosecutor’s brother-in-law, Pich Kong Yu, was also sentenced in absentia to 18 years in prison.
Two men previously testified that they had been illegally detained by Top Chan Sereyvuth’s staff while transporting logs and forced to pay US$3,000 for their release.
Forestry official Ri Lay also accepted $300 when he released the detainees, the court had heard.
Kea Chhay, defence lawyer for Top Chan Sereyvuth, said the appeal’s verdict was unfair to his client, as Ri Lay was not punished for taking a bribe.
“My client was a prosecutor, so he had the right to detain suspects of illegal logging,” Kea Chhay said, adding they would discuss the possibility of an appeal to the Supreme Court.