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Bodyguard’s prison stay grows

Bodyguard’s prison stay grows

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The jail time is piling up for the former head of Chea Sim’s bodyguard unit.

A week after earning a 10-year sentence from Phnom Penh Municipal Court for crimes including forgery and illegal weapons possession, a military court on Friday sentenced Lieutenant General Chhoeun Chanthan to 26 years in jail and ordered him to pay well north of US$3 million to parties affected by various embezzlement schemes.

Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
Chhoeun Chanthan smiles as he talks to reporters outside a military court in Phnom Penh on Friday.

Chhoeun Chanthan’s conviction and sentence stemmed from charges including breach of trust, embezzlement of state property and  illegal distribution of weapons.

Poak Porn, president of the military court’s trial council, ordered Chhoeun Chanthan to pay $2 million to General Yim Leang, new bodyguard unit commander for Senate president Chea Sim and his representative in the court; $749,836 to civil plaintiff Meas Kimheng and $897,750 to Ngeth Sarin, representing the Ministry of National Defence.

Poak Porn additionally ordered that land that had once belonged to the government including a former camp for Chea Sim’s bodyguard unit and property in Kandal province be returned to the Ministry of Defence.

At his trial on February 15, the court heard that Chhoeun Chanthan promised to pay $2 million for the land but never made payment.

Also known as Mao, the 41-year-old former RCAF commander stands to lose significant personal assets if unable to pay. Poak Porn said the court is prepared to confiscate and auction off properties including two homes in Phnom Penh, a plot of land located in Prek Ek district’s Ang Kanh village and property belonging to Chhoeun Chanthan’s import/export business.

Chhoeun Chanthan maintained his innocence on Friday, calling the court’s decision an “injustice” and saying he plans to appeal.

Chhoeun Chanthan was arrested on August 13 along with three bodyguards at his luxury residence in the capital.

Police seized a large cache of weapons and military uniforms.

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