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Tears over onions and a complaint

Tears over onions and a complaint

A high-ranking government official has filed a complaint against a customs official in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district over the unlawful confiscation of produce.

Sok Roeun, Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor, said a complaint had been filed last week by Ngor Sovann, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice and an advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The complaint alleged that Kim Nuon, head of Chamkarmon district’s customs office, had illegally seized 50 sacks of onions weighing more than a tonne, which were being transported for sale to markets around the capital.

The complaint condemned Kim Nuon for seizing his onions for his own financial gain under the guise of cracking down on the illegal smuggling of goods.

It further sought compensation of 40 million riel (about US$10,000) and stated that there was nothing illegal about the transportation of the onions.

Ngor Sovann said that the onions were seized on March 4 as family members were lawfully attempting to deliver them by motorbike cart to several markets in Phnom Penh.

“I think that the activities of the Chamkarmon district customs officers, acting under their district customs chief, were very bad and have also violated the rights of people,” Ngor Sovann said.

Yin Wengka, legal counsel for Kim Nuon, denied the charges against his client yesterday and said that the customs official had committed no procedural errors in the seizure of the onions.

“I think that my client had fully performed his duties well, and his role as a customs official in this case is to collect taxes for the Royal Government of Cambodia,” he said.

“If his goods were illegal, it [is justified] that they would be confiscated by customs officials.”

Ngor Sovann said that the onions had been imported from China and Vietnam, and that taxes had already been paid to customs officials upon their arrival.

Kim Nuon could not be reached for comment yesterday by The Post.

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