Pheng Kunthea Borey (L), the former protocol chief of Senate President Chea Sim, arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court last year prior to a hearing. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post
Three former advisers of Cambodian Senate President Chea Sim who were imprisoned last year on breach of trust charges are in need of a speedy appeal due to their declining medical conditions, defence lawyers said yesterday.
Suy Chhunhak, a lawyer for Chea Sim’s former chief of protocol and international relations, said that his client, Pheng Kunthea Borey, 57, was in a frail state from high blood pressure and a heart attack.
“I am now very concerned about her health and safety. I am afraid that if her health weakens from day to day, and her appeal hearing is delayed or not held ... she would not be able to bring her appeal hearing in the future,” he said.
In recent months, he said, security guards at the prison have taken Kunthea Borey for treatment at a Phnom Penh hospital.
Kunthea Borey and a handful of senior aides were convicted in 2011 of creating fake contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to build schools, roads, hospitals and other humanitarians services for which they skimmed off commissions.
They were arrested by military police after an investigation revealed the forgeries and frauds involving at least 51 foreign companies.
Thong Chan Rithy said that his clients, former advisers Ponlork Ho, 58, and Khieu Bora, 52, were also suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.
“I noted that since they were convicted and jailed in Prey Sar prison, they were sick and were hospitalised in the prison,” he said. “I am afraid that if they stay any longer in prison, they will face challenges.”
A security guard at the prison, who asked not be named, told the Post yesterday that all three spent time in the prison hospital after becoming ill.
He added that Chan Kosal, who was also locked up for his role in the scam, fell victim to high blood pressure and lung cancer in June and died in his Prey Sar prison cell.
Ngeth Sarath, deputy vice-prosecutor of the Court of Appeal, said that the case has been completely investigated, and the Phnom Penh Court of appeal will hear it next month.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at firstname.lastname@example.org