The Court of Appeal yesterday denied bail to the parents of a fugitive businessman wanted over the slaying of a fellow tycoon in November.
Khun Leang Meng, chief justice at the court, said Thong Chamroeun and his wife, Keo Sary, must remain in prison at least until the investigation into the illegal weapons cases against them concludes.
“Due to ongoing court proceedings related to this investigation, we could not let them out,” he said.
The couple were arrested in early December during a manhunt aimed at capturing their son, businessmen Thong Sarath, owner of the Borey 999 development project, who has since been charged with masterminding the murder of Shimmex Group owner Ung Meng Cheu.
Two of Sarath’s bodyguards have also been charged with the shooting outside a fruit shop in Phnom Penh on November 22. Two more were charged as accomplices.
Sy Satya, a lawyer for Chamroeun and Sary, said bail refusal was unfair, especially because Chamroeun was suffering from a liver condition that required regular medical treatment.
“My client is ill. It is more difficult for him in jail. He used to get regularly checked in Vietnam. Now his condition has worsened,” he said. “We will send a complaint to the Supreme Court requesting his release for treatment.”
Before the hearing, a pale and weak Chamroeun told reporters he was “sick”.
“I stayed in hospital in Vietnam for seven months before coming back and being arrested,” he said.
It was a far cry from the bluster of the couple’s press conference in December – hours before their arrests – when they likened their son to King Norodom Sihamoni, questioned the police’s right to investigate him, counted banknotes and threatened to have municipal police chief Chuon Sovann fired.
Speaking yesterday of Chamroeun – known as “Daddy” to 999 staff – a woman from the company, who gave her name as Theara, said she was disappointed by the decision.
“He is a good man. He provided us accommodation and food,” she said.
In Bora, director of the Ministry of Interior’s Penal Department, said police were still searching for Sarath.
“We are still not sure where he is,” he said.