Three of four Adhoc officials who submitted themselves for questioning in the Khom Chandaraty case emerged from Anti-Corruption Unit headquarters late last evening after a marathon session that saw at least one of them questioned for nearly 13 hours.
Senior Adhoc staffers Yi Soksan, Ny Sokha and Nay Vanda, all of whom were ordered to return for further questioning at 8 this morning, were summonsed last week following accusations by a 24-year-old salon worker that the rights group had asked her to lie to authorities about her alleged dealings with opposition deputy president Kem Sokha.
After their release, Adhoc president Thun Saray said only that the trio did not want to divulge details of their questioning as it was confidential.
Try Chhun, the lawyer Adhoc had assigned to represent Chandaraty and the fourth of those summonsed, was released earlier in the day following her questioning at the ACU offices.
Chuun told journalists after exiting that she was asked about a letter written by Srey Mom and other matters related to the case, adding that the ACU had no cause to accuse her as she had been entirely professional in her conduct.
“There were many questions, but what is the point in accusing me? I worked ethically,” she said.
In response to a letter sent by the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia yesterday, which questioned the lawyer as to why she had withdrawn her legal counsel for Chandaraty, Chhun said she was busy with the ACU summons and would respond to the bar later.
While Cambodia’s criminal procedure code allows for suspects to be detained during questioning, this does not apply to people who are not suspects, said Sok Sam Oeun, lawyer and former head of the Cambodian Defenders Project, who said the trio should have been released earlier.
“If you are not a suspect, in my opinion, you should not have to stay beyond the end of administrative working hours, which is 5pm,” Oeun said.
He added that police and law enforcement officials were abusing the rights of people by keeping them beyond this time, especially if there was no intent to arrest the person in question, adding that he knew of cases where people were released as late as 1am.
In a separate but related case, social media celebrity Thy Sovantha, who is suing CNRP acting president Kem Sokha for allegedly disparaging her in an audio recording purported to be between Sokha and Chandaraty, appeared before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, with Chandaraty expected to appear on Friday.
Speaking about her reasons for filing her $1 million defamation case against Sokha, Sovantha said she wanted the opposition leader to “learn a lesson”.
“I think $1 million is not much for him,” she said. “And for my part, I want him, who is a leader, to learn this lesson so that he will not defame others who are good people.”
Following his questioning at the ACU, Sam Rainsy Party commune chief from Kampong Cham Seang Chet was “temporarily” sent to Prey Sar prison yesterday by the Phnom Penh court after being charged with bribing a witness.
Chet, who had offered $500 to Chandaraty’s mother to help the salon worker’s family during the scandal, was accused by Chandaraty of giving her the money in return for lying about her alleged relationship with Sokha.
“The investigating judge decided to detain my client temporarily under the charge of bribing a witness, based on Article 548 of the criminal code, but, according to me, it is not appropriate,” said Chet’s lawyer Som Sokkong, adding that the charge was only valid if Chandaraty was a witness.
Additional reporting by Mech Dara