A 36-year-old man was tried yesterday for allegedly cheating money from a group of villagers in Banteay Meanchey and Kratie provinces by disguising himself as a government official and promising to help them win a case in court.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Nou Veasna said Sar Moeundara was charged with fraud with aggravating circumstances and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
Judge Veasna added that the accused was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit on June 16.
Hou Stabana, a senior officer with the ACU, told the court yesterday that the accused was arrested after disguising himself as the assistant to ACU president Om Yentieng and as a senior government official working with the Council of Ministers.
He said Mr Moeundara did so in order to cheat the villagers who had been in a land dispute with rich property businessmen and government officials.
“He took from $100 to $1,200 each from four representatives of the villagers with the promise to help them by bribing court officials,” he said.
Mr Stabana added the accused had been arrested in accordance with the villagers’ complaint, which was filed to the ACU for intervention.
According to an ACU report, Mr Moeundara often travelled to meet the group of villagers in Kratie and Banteay Meanchey provinces.
He promised to help them if they raised the money to pay him for his work in bribing relevant officials and institutions in order to win their land dispute case.
In early June, Mr Moeundara travelled again to meet the villagers in Krakie province and asked them to pay $2,000.
They grew suspicious about Mr Moeundara and researched his past activity and history. After realizing he was a fake government official, the villagers filed their complaint.
During yesterday’s trial, Mr Moeundara admitted his mistakes.
“The reason I disguised myself as a government official and as the assistant to the ACU president is because I wanted to make money,” he told the court.
“I acknowledge my mistakes now and I promise I won’t do it again in the future. I would like to ask the court to reduce my sentence and free me from prison.”
The verdict is due February 1.