The Appeal Court on Thursday heard a case of a man who was jailed earlier this year, along with his son, for extorting money from the owner of a tractor transporting timber in Kampong Chhnang province’s Teuk Phos district last year.
Following their arrest, the Kampong Chhnang provincial court on April 30 sentenced Chheng Ve, 41, to two-and-a-half years in prison, while his 17-year-old son, Tuy Chen, was sentenced to a year.
Presiding over Ve’s appeal on Thursday, Judge Yet Molin outlined the case as heard by the provincial court and said Chen had already been released from prison.
She said that on September 21 last year, the father and son threatened a man named Ny Rom for money while he was driving a tractor carrying luxury thnung timber in Kraing Skear commune’s Damnak Ampil village.
Chen demanded 90,000 riel ($22.50) from Rom, Judge Molin said, but was only given 80,000 riel.
She said Rom was unhappy at being threatened to hand over the money and subsequently filed a lawsuit, which resulted in the police arresting Ve and Chen.
Molin said the Kampong Chhnang provincial court convicted Ve and Chen under Articles 363 and 364 of the Criminal Code.
Ve was jailed for two-and-a-half years and fined two million riel, while his son was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment.
They had claimed at the original hearing that Sok Sovann, a journalist who was also arrested with Ve and Chen, had ordered them to demand the money from Rom, but Judge Molin said Sovann was released because the court could not find evidence to prove he was at fault.
Ve reiterated his claim at the appeal hearing on Thursday that he was ordered by Sovann to threaten Rom for money, but insisted he had not acted on Sovann’s demand.
“I did not extort money from Rom at all. Two environmental officials threatened Rom for money. Therefore, I ask the court to release me,” Ve said.
But the Appeal Court was told that Ve’s son Chen had informed the provincial court that his father had been required by the police to sign contracts several times promising not to extort money or face legal action.
However, Chen said his father did not respect the contracts, so the police decided to arrest him.
Appeal Court prosecutor Hean Rith said Ve had admitted to the provincial court that he threatened Rom for money, which was consistent with his son’s testimony.
“I think the Kampong Chhnang provincial court sentenced the two offenders correctly. Therefore, I request the court to uphold the verdict,” Rith said.
Leang Narith, Ve’s defence lawyer, said his client did not threaten Rom and claimed Rom handed over the money voluntarily.
“My client did not threaten violence to extort money from Rom. Therefore he should be found not guilty of breaching Article 363 of the Criminal Code. As such, I would like the court to release my client,” Narith said.
Judge Molin said a verdict would be announced on November 1.