About 500 students and lecturers from Phnom Penh International University gathered at the Appeals Court yesterday afternoon in a show of support for their former rector and her husband, who were convicted in December of breach of trust for embezzling tens of millions of dollars from a company owned by the wife of a tycoon senator.
Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post
About 500 students from Phnom Penh International University, family members and well-wishers gathered outside the Court of Appeals yesterday as Heng Chheang exited the court.
The gathering of university students inside and outside the court marked a rare display of anger against what they described as injustice.
“I think that the decision of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court was very unjust, so I came here to follow this case,” said Suy Sina, 23, a third-year Information Technology student at the university.
He was referring to the December 7 verdict that found former rector Tep Kolap and her husband Heng Chheang guilty based in part on two controversial audits. Both were sentenced to near maximum sentences of four-and-a-half years in jail.
Their defence lawyers told the Post that the Appeals Court had been unusually slow in hearing the numerous appeals they made to it since the two were arrested last June, including appeals against the refusal to grant them bail.
Senator Kok An said the pair embezzled more than US$58 million from Anco Brothers, which is run by his wife Sok Im. Tep Kolap and her husband have responded throug advertisements in local media, saying the case was manufactured to grab the assets of Tep Kolap’s family, including the university.
Her husband, Heng Chheang had been the treasurer of Anco Brothers, which used an account registered under the names of Sok Im and Heng Chheang. About $60 million was transferred from the account to another registered under the names of Heng Chheang and Tep Kolap between 2001 and 2010.
Heng Chheang has said the same amount was transferred from the account he shared with his wife back to the one he shared with Sok Im, and his lawyers have provided the Post with transaction records they say verify this, as well as other records showing funds being transferred to overseas accounts in Sok Im’s name.
Meanwhile, the chair of the National Accounting Council has sent a second letter to court-appointed auditor Kak Key instructing him to inform the court that his audit was incomplete, according to copies of the letter printed in local media.
“The case is drawing a lot of public attention because it displays the injustice in Cambodian society,” Hin Sam Ath, vice-rector of the university told the Post.