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‘Sick’ jailed prosecutor to request bail

A lawyer for a provincial prosecutor awaiting trial on corruption charges said yesterday that he was preparing to file documents to request that his client be released on bail on the grounds of ill health.

Pursat provincial prosecutor Top Chan Sereyvuth and two personal bodyguards were apprehended on November 29 in the first high-profile arrests made by the recently established Anticorruption Unit.

The following day, all three were charged with corruption, extortion and false imprisonment and were imprisoned at Pursat provincial prison, where they await trial.

Defence lawyer Kea Chhay said yesterday that the decision to seek bail had come after Top Chan Sereyvuth was rushed to hospital upon falling ill on Sunday evening.

“He is sick and he was sent to hospital immediately for help because he had high blood pressure,” he said. He said his client had been “saved in time” and was returned to prison on Monday evening.

Kea Chhay said Top Chan Sereyvuth’s health was in danger of deteriorating while he was in custody, and that he would request his client be released on bail. He said he would be willing for him to remain under police supervision.

“We don’t want him to stay in the prison because his health is not so good. We want him to stay in the hospital, but under control of the police,” he said.

Kea Chhay noted that a trial date had not been set and that Top Chan Sereyvuth was being held during investigations that would be hindered if he became seriously ill.

Sun Sao, deputy director of the provincial prison, confirmed Top Chan Sereyvuth was seriously ill and required close medical attention. He said the prosecutor’s wife visited the prison almost every day to help take care of him.

“He has high blood pressure, diabetes and pain in his right leg,” she said, adding that Sunday’s emergency showed the extent of his illness.

“He is lucky to have been sent to the hospital in time,” Sun Sao said. “If he wasn’t, he could be dead.”

Pang Chan Yutheara, deputy provincial prosecutor, said he did not know whether or not the request for bail would be granted.

“I haven’t seen the request letter from the lawyers yet and I don’t know if he can be released on bail because his case is under investigation,” he said.

Ouch Leng, land programme officer for rights group Adhoc, said it was plausible that the bail request was justified.

“If he has that disease, he could be released on bail, or a doctor could follow up his illness in the prison,” he said, adding that even if Top Chan Sereyvuth was corrupt, “he is also a human being so he needs to be taken care of”.

ACU head Om Yentieng, and the body’s spokesman Keo Remy, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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