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Tycoon and ex-vice governor charged over land grab

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
Sou Arafat, former deputy governor of Battambang province charged over bribery and embezzlement. Facebook

Phnom Penh Municipal Court today charged and detained a former vice-governor of Battambang province and a property Tycoon accused of bribery and embezzlement over grabbing nearly 5,000 hectares of state land in Battambang Province’s Kuos Kralor district.

Kuch Kimlong, spokesman of the Municipal Court, identified the men as Sou Arafat, 47, former vice-governor of Battambang province and Okhna Sorng Thorn,60, real estate businessman living in Battambang province.

He said Arafat was charged with “destruction, embezzlement and acceptance of bribery” under Articles 595 and 608 of the Criminal Code. If convicted, he will serve between seven to 15 years in prison.

Kimlong added Thorn was charged with “mastermind in the plan of destruction and embezzlement and proffering of bribes” under Articles 605 and 608 of the Criminal Code. If convicted, he faces between five to 10 years in prison.

The two men have been sent to prison pending trial.

Tycoon Song Thorn charged over land grab in Battambang province. Facebook

Lieutenant Colonel Sok Sophal, military police officer working with the Criminal Offense Research Office at the National Military Police, told Khmer Times today that Arafat is a former vice-governor of Battambang province in charge of provincial land dispute settlement affairs and owns land in the province.

Lt Sophal added Thorn was a well-known property businessman with many businesses interests in Battambang province.

He said the two were close friends and together owned many pieces of land in Kuos Kralor district.

Sorng was arrested on June 27 while Arafat was arrested on July 1, based on the statements lodged by villagers to ACU of how nearly 5,000 hectares of land in Kuos Kralor district had been grabbed by them.

Om Yentieng, President of the Anti-Corruption Unit could not be reached for comments.

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