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General Charged With Land Title Fraud

Kandal provincial courts on Thursday detained a high-ranking military general on charges he faked land documents in an attempt to take more than $1 million in land from a Phnom Penh businessman.

National penal police arrested Maj. Gen. Chao Sokhonn in Phnom Penh Thursday and transported him to the courts in Kandal, where the land is, said penal police head Maj. Gen. Mok Chito.

Chao Sokhonn was questioned by court prosecutors and charged Thursday. No date has been set for his trial.

Prosecutors allege that Chao Sokhonn employed a fake land title in order to take 12 hectares away from the businessman, who spoke to VOA Khmer but requested anonymity for fear of reprisal.

The businessman said he bought the $1.3 million plot, along National Road 51, in 2001through Canadia Bank’s real estate arm.

In September, he went to check on the land to build a wall and plant trees, but bodyguards of Chao Sokhonn prevented him from entering, the businessman said.

Chao Sokhonn, 50, is an adviser to Ministry of Defense Secretary-General Sam Vanthon and a former Funcinpec deputy commander of military police in Sihanoukville.

Sam Vanthon declined to comment on the arrest Friday.

Chao Sokhonn was released from three years of prison in 2002, on charges of drug trafficking, after which he joined the Cambodian People’s Party, according to Deputy Prime Minister Nhiek Bunchhay, who is also the secretary-general of Funcinpec.

His arrest comes following the September arrests of several other military officers charged with forging documents in an attempt to sell state property in Phnom Penh.