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Prosecutor Defends His Records in Corruption Charges

Last year Pursat provincial court sentenced Top Chan Sereivuth to 19 years in jail on charges of corruption, extortion, and false imprisonment.

Former court prosecutor Top Chan Sereyvuth on Wednesday maintained his innocence in a high-profile corruption case during an appeal court hearing.

Last year, the Pursat provincial court sentenced Top Chan Sereyvuth to 19 years in jail on charges of corruption, extortion, and false imprisonment. But he denied the charges and appealed the verdict.

During Wednesday’s hearing, reporters were not allowed to take notes but the court allowed a photographer from the anti-corruption unit to photograph and document the hearing.

Judge Pol Sam Oeun heard the case in the appeal court and said the verdict will be announced March 14.

Top Chan Sereyvuth was found last year by the court to have extorted about $3,000 from two men who were caught smuggling wood in June 2011.

The former prosecutor told the appeal court that he was not involved in the bribery. He denied having been at the scene when the arrest took place or having accepted money.

"I merely request the court give me justice and fully consider testimonies by both the witnesses and victims,” he said, “[to determine] whether I have committed something wrong or not."

The court also sentenced the former prosecutor’s two drivers—Chhit Vuthy and Ros Samnang—on the same charges to 16 years and 15 years, respectively.

Provincial court further issued an arrest warrant for Pich Kong Yu, brother-in-law of Top Chan Sereyvuth, who has fled the country since 2011.

Defense lawyer Kea Chhay said that he hoped the appeal court will bring his client justice.

"If he issued the order, it is not a crime because he did so in his capacity as a prosecutor."

Kheang Seng, deputy chief of anti-corruption unit declined to comment, saying that the court has followed all due process.