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Disgraced ambassador seeks appeal hearing

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
Former ambassador to South Korea Suth Dina. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Supreme Court yesterday debated overturning an Appeal Court decision not to hear the case of disgraced former ambassador to South Korea Suth Dina, who was convicted of abuse of power and exploitation and sentenced to five years in jail.

In December 2016, Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Mr Dina guilty and the former ambassador later attempted to appeal the conviction.

But the Court of Appeal on January 13, 2017 refused to rehear the case because Mr Dina had failed to properly transfer his rights to the three lawyers who were representing him and had filed the appeal on his behalf.

Mr Dina’s lawyer Kim Mengkhy told the Supreme Court yesterday that the Appeal Court decision was unjust and should be overturned because it was a simple clerical error and the three lawyers had verbal permission to represent Mr Dina despite paperwork not being filed.

“The Appeal Court refused to have his appeal hearing given that it did not have the transferring of rights letter, but that reason is not suitable,” he said.

Kim Sathavy, Supreme Court presiding judge, said the Appeal Court had followed proper procedures and noted that the judges would further discuss the case and issue a verdict on March 14.

A political chameleon who had hopped between opposition movements and ruling parties, Mr Dina worked for the Foreign Affairs Ministry and as a personal adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen before landing the ambassadorship in Seoul in 2014.

The Anti-Corruption Unit then publicly raised suspicions over his ballooning personal wealth, which it reported had increased by as much as $3 million during his time in South Korea.

Accusations levelled at Mr Dina included claims that he took kickbacks from migrant workers, pocketed fees paid for visas, and failed to pay rent on the embassy building.

His trial at the municipal court in 2016 was more narrowly focused, centering on $116,995 in embassy revenue that was apparently not transferred to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Evidence included written testimonies of four embassy officials, whom Mr Dina accused of seeking revenge for his crackdown on their own bribery schemes.

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