About 100 students from Phnom Penh International University wept outside the Supreme Court yesterday after a bail request from the institution’s rector and board chairman, who are accused of siphoning US$30 million from tycoon Kok An’s Anco company, was refused.
Despite the strength of their support, Supreme Court Judge Khem Pon did not allow husband and wife – rector Heng Chheang and chairman Tep Kolap – their freedom and upheld a previous decision from the Appeal Court. No reason was given publicly.
The couple were charged on July 4 with breach of trust after Kok An alleged they had stolen from him. Heng Chheang used to be the vice-president of Anco.
Speaking outside the court and carrying his youngest daughter, Heang Chheang alleged that the complaint had been filed without enough documentation to back it up. He asked for him or his wife to be released in order to care for their children. “It is very unjust for us,” he said.
Khieu Naroth, a fourth-year student at the university, said the group had turned up to show their support for the pair. She is convinced of their innocence and believes that “the people who did not do wrong were detained in jail”.
On August 17, Tep Kolab asked in a letter to the Ministry of Justice for it to form an independent committee tasked with auditing the finances of the tycoon’s company.
Kok An is as a senator from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and is owner of Anco – which distributes products such as Budweiser beer, 555 cigarettes and Evian water. He could not be reached for comment.