Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Reduced sentence for ‘crocodile grandma’

Reduced sentence for ‘crocodile grandma’

Reduced sentence for ‘crocodile grandma’

The Appeal Court yesterday more than halved the sentence of businesswoman Chhin Sokountheary, whose croc farm plans earned her the nickname “Crocodile Grandmother”, given after her 2012 conviction for encroaching on 34 hectares of state land – land that her defence team says she still legally owns.

“The Appeal Court decided to uphold the decision of Phnom Penh [Municipal] Court . . . but it has reduced Chhin Sokountheary’s punishment from four years and six months to two years in prison,” presiding judge Nguon Im said yesterday.

“The Appeal Court decided to reduce her fine from 30 million riel [about $7,500] to 15 million riel and cancelled her 60 million riel compensation [payment],” he added.

Sok Sam Oeun, the executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project and attorney for Sokountheary – who was tried in absentia – lambasted the verdict, saying that all the evidence pointed in his client’s favour.

“I think that the court’s decision was not just . . . I could not accept it,” he said yesterday. “However, now I do not know whether she will appeal it to the highest court or not.”

Oeun yesterday echoed Sokountheary’s long-held contention that she legally purchased the land with the acknowledgement of local authorities in 1999 – as reportedly shown with evidence of 18 land ownership transfer certificates – and that she paid tax on it in 2011.

In March of last year, Sokountheary filed an abuse-of-power lawsuit against then-Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema and his alleged accomplices for falsifying documents that illegally reclassified the land in question as belonging to the state.

The $100 million suit was summarily dismissed by Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which offered no explanation.

The Appeal Court later upheld the decision to throw the suit out, saying that the sub-decree classifying the land as state property “was in the interest of the public”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • We’re going to Wisney World!

    More than 6,000 mostly Chinese attendees witnessed the inauguration ceremony of a $1 billion Sihanoukville resort project called Wisney World in the capital on Wednesday. The event on Koh Pich, attended by several senior Cambodian government officials, is a joint venture between China’s AMC International and

  • Funcinpec urges probe into deadly Preah Sihanouk accident

    THE Funcinpec party has urged the government, especially the Ministry of Interior, to investigate the traffic accident in Preah Sihanouk province which left Prince Norodom Ranariddh badly injured and his wife Ouk Phalla dead. Funcinpec Vice President You Hokry told reporters at Botum Votey pagoda,