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Top Lawyer Declines Comment on Judicial Student Bribery

[Editor’s note: Four former and current students at the Royal Academy for Judicial Professions, a Phnom Penh court official, an official at the Ministry of Justice and others have explained to VOA Khmer in recent months that academy students must pay bribes of between $20,000 and $150,000 to have seats in the judicial system after they graduate. Government officials held a press conference last week to refute the allegations. For further clarification, VOA Khmer called one of the government’s top lawyers, Heng Vong Bunchat. He spoke on Wednesday to Sok Khemara, who called from Washington. Heng Vong Bunchat appeared to confuse Sok Khemara for a Radio Free Asia journalist. The full transcript of that phone call follows.]

Heng Vong Bunchat: Hello.

VOA: Hello, Excellency Dr. Heng Vong Bunchat.

Heng Vong Bunchat: What’s the matter, honey?

VOA: My name is Khemara, working for VOA based in Washington.

Heng Vong Bunchat: Oh! There you are again. You have caused total destruction and now you’re back. You have to thoroughly think it over and be responsible, you, younger brother. It is not because you [derogative] work under the superpower, you can do anything at will.

VOA: Yes, but… I want…

Heng Vong Bunchat [interrupts]: Not “I want.” I cannot get involved with you because your institution does not know right from wrong.

Heng Vong Bunchat: If [you] want to ask any question, ask Sam Borin to call me [derogative]; he was my student. You, the younger, know nothing.

VOA: Yes, if…

Heng Vong Bunchat: That’s it. Enough of your recording.

VOA: Yes, thank you, Your Excellency.

Heng Vong Bunchat: You, you [derogative] sleep and think it over how you would be responsible for this trouble. We will review this situation.

VOA: That’s why I want…

Heng Vong Bunchat: You [derogative] stop asking like that. You [derogative] show your face up. You [derogative] come and meet… You [derogative] don’t use the telephone [as a shield].

VOA: No, I want explanation from…

Heng Vong Bunchat: You [derogative] will not get anything. I won’t give anything. You, you guys, are irresponsible people.

VOA: Yes, then…if…

Heng Vong Bunchat: You record it and broadcast it [as it is now].

VOA: If, you don’t clarify how can I…

Heng Vong Bunchat: No clarification. I’m not a person clarifying things for you. You are [working for] a radio that… has no responsibility. You’re so mighty. You [are working for] a radio of a superpower. You must seriously think [of the consequences]. Once one is influential, he has to seriously think [of the consequences]. You just flip here and there [referring to broadcasting] and then make a phone call. I [derogative] never see your face and now come here to show your face.

VOA: Yes, no problem…wait until…

Heng Vong Bunchat: Come out. Come out and show your face. Come to meet [me] at [my] place.

VOA: Yes.

Heng Vong Bunchat: Who’s the VOA chief in Cambodia?

VOA: So, Your Excellency cannot…

Heng Vong Bunchat: Many people died, you know? You know that you hold a big responsibility in this case. You know it or not, your whole team? Now, the tragedy is not mine or related to me. But, in whatever you speak; you have this might and you must seriously consider it. At what level you can talk.

VOA: Yes.

Heng Vong Bunchat: Not all you said were wrong, but to what level so that they can also accept it?

VOA: Yes, but I seemed not to do anything beyond my professionalism.

Heng Vong Bunchat: Now, that’s it. If you want to meet, mobilize all your people, and come to [my] office with witnesses.

VOA: Yes

Heng Vong Bunchat: What else do you want to know? You rely on your phone to come from behind. Tell Borin to meet me (derogative).

VOA: Borin is with Radio Free Asia and I…

Heng Vong Bunchat: Hangs up.