The Ministry of Justice is reviewing a report from the Kratie Provincial Court prosecutor over allegations that judge Eng Chamnab released an illegal logger under “irregular” circumstances.
“There is no complaint currently, there is just a report from the prosecutor of the Kratie Provincial Court to the Minister of Justice relating to this case. We are reviewing some facts and procedures,” ministry spokesman Chin Malin said yesterday.
The Kratie court report cited judge Chamnab’s release of 31-year-old timber truck driver Ry Sophea as irregular.
Last week, prosecutors and coalition forces seized 25 firewood transport trucks in Kratie province’s Snuol district.
Reports say the vehicles included a 2.5-tonne truck and 24 other vehicles.
A local news website reported that forces arrested Mr Sophea, who lived in Tboung Khmum province’s Memot district, after he tried to escape by driving his vehicle into the forces’ vehicle.
He was arrested, sent to the Kratie Provincial Court and charged by the prosecutor. But when the case was handed to Mr Chamnab, the suspect was released after paying 1 million riel ($250) compensation for damage to the forces’ vehicle.
Deputy prosecutor Chea Sopheak told local media: “The release procedure was irregular and the prosecution will take the case to the Court of Appeal.”
Mr Chamnab could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Hean Cheavkun, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said she supports the actions of the provincial court to hold the judge accountable.
“Implementing legal measures for officials is appropriate and an example for judges in other provinces who have the discretion to make a decision and have decided inappropriately,” she said.
Mr Malin said a report will be filed to the Supreme Council of the Magistracy for further investigation and legal proceedings if the ministry finds the judge made a serious error.
“If the ministry’s investigation finds there has been a mistake in discipline or procedures, it will take further action,” he said.