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Okhna to petition for wife’s release on bail

A PROMINENT businessman whose wife stands accused of masterminding a murder plot plans to petition government officials for her release on bail, his lawyer said yesterday.

The court last week charged Seng Chanda with attempted premeditated murder in connection with an alleged plot that targeted Suv Chantha, the daughter of Seng Chanda’s husband, Okhna Khaou Chuly. Suv Chantha is also the wife of Suv Chanthol, vice chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia and a former minister of public works and transport.

A complaint filed June 16 by Suv Chantha accuses two men and two women of attempting to rape and murder her and her daughter. According to the complaint, they approached the family’s house in Sen Sok district in the early morning hours of June 13 after drugging the family’s guard dogs. The complaint asserts that the plot was foiled after Suv Chantha woke up.

Lim Vanna, Khaou Chuly’s lawyer, said the request being drafted by his client would be sent to senior government officials and the municipal court.
“I know that Okhna has been writing personal letters to senior officials and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court seeking the release of his wife, because he is lonely and too old at home,” Lim Vanna said.

Judge Te Sam Ang ordered that Seng Chanda be placed in pretrial detention on Thursday morning, one day after charging her. He said yesterday that he could not comment on the prospect of her being released on bail because he had not seen any letter from Khaou Chuly.

Lim Vanna said the decision would rest solely with the investigating judge, despite the fact that government officials were also being petitioned.

“It is the judge’s right to make this decision whether or not to release her on bail,” he said, and added that the court would be kept informed of Seng Chanda’s whereabouts in the run-up to any trial.

Pol Chandara, a government lawyer representing Sun Chantha, declined to comment on the pending bail request in light of the fact that the case was still being investigated.

He said, though, that he believed it would be more appropriate to send a letter to the court than to government officials. “The government officials cannot interfere in the court’s affairs during the court’s investigation,” he said.

Okhna Khaou Phallaboth, the son of Khaou Chuly and younger brother of Suv Chantha, yesterday expressed regret that a “small internal dispute in the family” had ended up in court. He declined to describe the dispute’s origins.

“I firmly believe that my father’s wife would not do such a foolish thing as to order the rape and murder of my older sister,” he said.

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