Cambodia’s ousted court president jailed for exploitation

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Phnom Penh, Feb 12 (IANS) A Cambodian court on Friday sentenced disgraced former Phnom Penh Municipal Court President Aing Mealdey to three years in prison with one year being suspended on the charge of “unlawful exploitation”.

The court decided to downgrade the charge against the former court president from embezzlement, which can carry a maximum prison term of 10 years, to unlawful exploitation, which carries a jail term of less than five years, Xinhua reported.

The court also ordered the convict to pay a fine of 5 million riel ($1,250).

Mealdey, 59, was removed from his post in February last year after Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a public speech that he might have taken a multi-million-US dollar bribe to release two suspects connected to a high-profile assassination case.

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He was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) in August last year. After the investigation, the former court president was not found guilty of taking bribe in the assassination case, but he was found guilty of giving an Audi SUV confiscated from a suspected drug dealer in 2014 to his son.

In a trial session late last month, Mealdey recognised his mistake and requested the court to change the charge from embezzlement to unlawful exploitation.

It was the first time in the country that an ex-court chief was sentenced over corruption-related charge.

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