A Foreign Affairs Ministry official was sentenced to two years in prison on Wednesday for taking bribes to expedite garment export permits but will serve only 12 months.
Ea Se, 42, a bureau chief at a ministry department that manages relations with New Zealand and Australia, was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) in March with $1,000 of bribes in hand while delivering documents on behalf of the unidentified company to the ministry’s legal department. He was subsequently charged with the misappropriation of public funds, punishable by two to five years in prison.
Ea Se, center, a bureau chief at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, is escorted into the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/ The Cambodia Daily)“The final decision is to sentence the defendant, Ea Se, to two years in prison, but he will only serve one year in prison…and the rest of the sentence will be suspended,” Presiding Judge Veng Huot announced at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday.
The judge said Mr. Se was granted a suspended sentence due to his previously untarnished reputation at the Foreign Ministry, where he had worked for 17 years, but that he would also be made to pay a fine of 6 million riel, or about $1,500.
Mr. Se, who has been in provisional detention since April, is set to be released in nine months.
On trial earlier this month, Mr. Se admitted to demanding $300 from a foreign garment company to process export permits from its Cambodia-based factory but denied soliciting further bribes.
That same day, a representative of the company—whose identity has not been released by the court or the ACU—said Mr. Se later demanded a larger sum to process the “very complicated” documents, and that the two eventually settled on $1,000. It is unclear why the plaintiff is not also being prosecuted for paying the bribes.
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