Seng Chenda (centre) arrives at the Supreme Court in Phnom Penh on Friday. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
Closing arguments in the attempted murder appeal of Seng Chenda, wife of local tycoon Khaou Chuly, and her three co-defendants, wrapped Friday, with the Supreme Court announcing it will deliver a verdict on October 5.
In 2011, Chenda, along with maids Chan Sokha and Neang Sinath, and security guard Sok Lak, was convicted in Phnom Penh Municipal Court of orchestrating an ultimately failed plot to assassinate her stepdaughter, Sun Sotha – the wife of former public works minister Sun Chanthol – as well as Sotha’s nine-year-old daughter in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok District.
“The case with which they accused my client, Seng Chenda, was not true, and it was only exaggerated by the plaintiff in order to level accusations at her,” said Chenda’s attorney, Ka Savuth.
Lim Vanna, another lawyer for Chenda, said that the lower courts’ decisions had little basis apart from the testimony of Chan Sokha and Neang Sinath – both of whom changed their story during the case’s last appeal.
Sokha and Sinath’s lawyer, Thuy Sokun, took the opportunity to echo his clients’ earlier calls for clemency.
“My clients have confessed about their plot to attempt to murder the victim, and also accepted their offences,” he said, before asking for reduced or suspended sentences.
Both Sokha and Sinath had maintained their innocence in the original trial, and claimed that their police confessions were coerced. However, in the case’s first appeal, and again last week, the pair reversed their previous testimony, saying they participated in the conspiracy at Chenda’s behest, with Sinath alleging that she had been blackmailed by Sokha, who she said would have revealed her love affair with her employer if she didn’t play a role in the killing.
Sun Chanthol told the Post after proceedings had concluded that he intends to bring a suit against Khaou Chuly himself, alleging that he had taped Chuly admitting to his wife’s plot while also implicating his son’s wife.
“My father-in-law, Khaou Chuly, had directly told me that his wife, Seng Chenda, had hired her closest aides to assassinate my wife and my youngest daughter under the order of [his daughter-in-law] Lay Huong,” said Chanthol, who maintained that the allegation meshed with Sokha’s testimony.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at firstname.lastname@example.org