Decades-old land case resurrected

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
The accused is escorted away from court. Swift News

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday tried a man accused of cheating a foreign investor in a $2 million land deal dating back to 1992.

Kor Vandy, presiding judge at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, identified the accused as Heng Uyhok, a 70-year-old real estate businessman.

Mr Uyhok is also known to be a former advisor to Chea Sim, former president of the Senate and former president of the CPP.

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Judge Vandy said that the accused had been charged by the court with breach of trust following his arrest last year on March 3.

Judge Vandy added that the accused is also being sued by Hong Francis, also known as Sunlak, who is a 63-year-old Chinese investor and the President of the Royal Garment Factory living in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district.

Mey Vandy, Mr Francis’s lawyer, told the court that in 1992, his client had come to Cambodia as a tourist. During a visit to Phnom Penh, Mr Francis met Mr Uyhok, a Chinese-speaking land broker, the lawyer added.

Mr Vandy noted that Mr Uyhok had explained that he was an advisor to Mr Chea Sim and that they worked closely together.

Mr Vandy said Mr Uyhok recommended his client to meet Mr Chea Sim. Mr Uyhok then brought Mr Francis to meet with Mr Chea Sim at the senior politician’s home in Chamkar Mon district, according to Mr Vandy.

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After Mr Uyhok had brought Mr Francis to meet with Mr Chea Sim, the land broker persuaded Mr Francis to invest in lands and open a garment factory in Cambodia.

“After my client began to trust him, my client later decided to open a garment factory in Cambodia,” Vandy told the court.

“Because my client had trusted him, in 1992, my client had sent in instalments [four instalments to be exact] a total of $2.1 million to Mr Uyhok for a purchase of a plot of land in Chamkar Mon district and two other plots of lands in Tuol Kork district to build garment factories, as well as buying another 100 hectares of land in Por Senchey district,” he stated.

“But Mr Uyhok did not use the money to buy the land as he had promised to my client. And until now, my client still has not received any land from him,” he added.

Mr Vandy said his client is suing Mr Uyhok for $2 million in damages, and asked the court for maximum punishment in accordance with the law.

Mr Uyhok denied the allegations during his trial yesterday.

Mr Uyhok told the court that he knew Mr Francis in 1992, noting that he used to bring Mr Francis to meet with Mr Chea Sim and prime minister Hun Sen in 2014. He had also helped Mr Francis to become a Cambodian citizen in 2014.

Mr Uyhok noted that he had never received any money from Mr Francis.

“I deny the plaintiff’s accusation,” Mr Uyhok told the court. “I am innocent, yet I have been in jail for more than two years. I would like to ask the court to drop the charge and release me from prison.”

Puth Theavy, Mr Uyhok’s lawyer, said that according to the Cambodian criminal code, the case is no longer valid since it happened almost 30 years ago now.

“Even if my client had committed the offences, my client cannot be tried for the case because it had happened nearly 30 years ago,” said Mr Theavy. “Therefore, I would like to ask the court to give him justice and release him from prison.”

A verdict is due May 10.

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