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Guilty verdict in lawyer’s bribery case

Guilty verdict in lawyer’s bribery case

A lawyer on Friday was found guilty and sentenced to five years in jail – with three of those suspended – for attempting to bribe a judge.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court presiding judge Svay Tonh found Pich Ratana, 43, guilty under Article 518 of the criminal code, but gave the lawyer 30 days to appeal.

Liv Sovann, one of five defense attorneys representing Ratana, maintained his client had not attempted to bribe a judge, arguing that the money was meant to secure bail for clients and any other possible use was merely theoretical.

“The money, itself, was for bail. In case the judge didn’t agree on bail, he only thought about the alternative,” Sovann said. “So, it is a thinking stage, not an offense stage . . . The law doesn’t punish anyone when nothing has been committed.”

Ratana was arrested on May 31 at the Olympic Stadium by Anti-Corruption Unit officers after showing up with $5,000 cash received from his client Sang Sary to secure bail for her and her husband, Pam Sokna.

The couple, in jail over a case involving a plot of land, filed the corruption complaint against Ratana.

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