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Former Chea Sim bodyguard chief Chhoeun Chanthan exits the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh.
Former Chea Sim bodyguard chief Chhoeun Chanthan exits the Supreme Court. PHA LINA

Disgraced bodyguard appeals at high court

Ex-Chea Sim bodyguard chief Chhoeun Chanthan, who was sentenced to 36 years in prison last year on charges including stealing from the Ministry of Defence and doling out guns and fake licences, had what will likely be his final day in court.

The four-hour Supreme Court hearing dealt with Chanthan’s convictions, in both military and civilian courts, on charges that include selling and using faked gun licences, dereliction of duty, embezzling a $2 million plot of land from the Ministry of Defence, and destroying ministry property.

In addition to his lengthy prison term, Chanthan was ordered to repay more than $3.5 million to the victims of his scams.

At yesterday’s trial, defence lawyer Put Theavy suggested the court’s president “reconsider a few aspects, and lower the level of the sentence”.

“The guns [found in Chanthan’s house] were not my client’s,” he maintained.

In 2012, at Chanthan’s first trial, Theavy argued that the guns were part of his client’s work.

“He was the commander of a top leader’s bodyguard unit, and he kept only several weapons and ammunition temporarily in his house to protect his leader — and he’s been sentenced to 10 years in prison for it,” he said, adding that it was Chanthan’s “duty to grant permission to his soldiers to use pistols, guns or ammunition”.

Chanthan was arrested in a 2011 raid that netted 12 guns, including an AK-47, two machine guns and more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition.

Judge Chan Dararasmey, however, said that with only old evidence to go on, he was leaning towards upholding the lower courts’ decisions.

Court president Khem Bun said a verdict will be delivered on August 7.

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