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Man pleads for clemency in extortion case

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:

The Appeal Court yesterday began hearing the case of a man sentenced to 30 months in jail for extorting money from loggers in Kampong Chhnang province last year.

Presiding Judge Yeth Polin identified him as 46-year-old Chheng Ve. Judge Polin said Mr Ve hailed from Kampong Chhnang’s Ampil village in Toek Phos district’s Kraing Skear commune.

She said Mr Ve was found guilty of extortion after he was arrested in September last year by police officers in Kraing Skear commune and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

She noted that Mr Ve’s son, 22-year-old Tuy Chen, was convicted along with his father and sentenced to one year in prison; he has already been released from jail.

Judge Polin said that Mr Ve and Mr Chen were reporters for the Press Council of Cambodia, and were previously educated about extorting loggers but failed to adhere to warnings.

She said that on September 21 last year at about 4pm, three loggers filed a complaint against the two for extorting $22.50 from each logger. Both men were then arrested.

“They were both arrested at about 6pm in September [2018] at their house in Damak Ampil village,” Judge Polin said. “They were arrested following the victims’ complaint.”

Kampong Cham Provincial Court then sentenced Mr Ve to two years and six months in jail, while Mr Chen was sentenced to one year. Both men were also ordered to pay about $500 each to the three plaintiffs.

Mr Ve yesterday asked the Appeal Court to reduce his sentence after he admitted to using his position as a reporter to threaten loggers and extort money from them.

He noted that he could earn up to $30 per day and needed the money because being a member of the Press Council of Cambodia did not pay.

“I have learned about my mistake. I would like to promise that I will not repeat this in the future,” Mr Ve said. “I would like to ask the court to reduce my sentence so that I may be able to be with my family.”

A verdict is due November 1.

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