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Top court denies bail for ex-deputy Battambang governor in graft case

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Battambang provincial deputy governor Sou Arafat. Facebook

Top court denies bail for ex-deputy Battambang governor in graft case

The Supreme Court on January 20 denied bail to former Battambang provincial deputy governor Sou Arafat who remains jailed over allegations of corruption while awaiting trial on three charges stemming from this case.

Arafat is accused of attempting to help a tycoon, who holds the honorific oknha, grab more than 5,000ha in Kors Kralor district.

Both Arafat and his lawyer Chhun Marosa were absent from the January 20 proceedings.

“Having deliberated on the case, the Supreme Court rules that the Appeal Court’s verdict on September 3, 2020, refusing bail to the individual in custody was correct and so the verdict is upheld,” the presiding judge said.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has yet to finish hearing Arafat’s case related to the land dispute.

According to the police report, the case centred around a land dispute between oknha Sorng Thorn and 200 families in Kors Kralor district in 2015.

At the time, the Anti-Corruption Unit investigated the dispute at the behest of Prime Minister Hun Sen after the families whom Thorn was attempting to displace appealed to the prime minister for help. This led to the arrest of Thorn and Arafat, who were then indicted on three charges.

After questioning by deputy prosecutor Soeun Moniroth, charges were brought against both of them for unlawful exploitation, destruction of property and bribery under articles 601, 605 and 595 of the Criminal Code.

Judge Im Vannak issued a detention warrant for both of them on July 7, 2020.

If found guilty under Article 595 on charges of bribing a public official or citizen vested with public office, Thorn and Arafat face between seven and 15 years imprisonment.

If found guilty under articles 601 or 605 on charges of destruction of property or unlawful exploitation, they face up to 10 years imprisonment for each of those crimes.

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