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Embezzlement appeal held sans appellant

The lawyer of a former Southeast Asia TV director-general has accused the Supreme Court of deliberately opening the hearing in his client’s appeal today to prevent him attending.

SEA TV executive Sem Sovandeth was convicted in May last year of embezzling US$7 million from the news station’s investors’ funds and sentenced to three years and six months  in jail.

His lawyer, Kao Ty, yesterday appealed for the Supreme Court to create an independent body to investigate the embezzlement that Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary of State Kao Kim Hourn had accused his client of.

Kao Kim Hourn originally filed a complaint with police after claiming to have noticed “irregularities” in the account book of the news station he co-ran with Sem Sovandeth.

Sem Sovandeth served about eight months of pre-trial detention and is just under half-way through his jail term.

His lawyer Kao Ty said his client would be unable to attend the hearing of his appeal because he was suffering from a combination of medical ailments.

“My client did not take the money for his personal use. He took money to buy equipment for the television station,” he said, adding that Kao Kim Hourn owed his client about $90,000 of salary.

Kao Kim Hourn could not be contacted Thursday.

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