Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Breaking: Five years for chief tied to Sokha case



Breaking: Five years for chief tied to Sokha case

Seang Chet (centre), commune chief for the Sam Rainsy Party, is escorted out of Phnom Penh Municipal Court after being questioned in May.
Seang Chet (centre), commune chief for the Sam Rainsy Party, is escorted out of Phnom Penh Municipal Court after being questioned in May. Heng Chivoan

Breaking: Five years for chief tied to Sokha case

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court this morning sentenced Sam Rainsy Party commune chief Seang Chet to five years in prison for a plot to bribe the purported mistress of CNRP leader Kem Sokha.

Presiding judge Koa Vandy gave no details of the evidence against Chet, who was one of six people imprisoned for a supposed-scheme to buy the silence of hairdresser Khom Chandaraty, which critics have slammed as a bogus case designed to pressure the opposition party and civil society.

“The court decides to sentence Seang Chet, 45, male, Cambodia, to 5 years in prison for bribing a witness in Kampong Cham and Phnom Penh committed between March 10 and April 2016. The crime [falls under] article 548 of the criminal code,” said Vandy, whose only other statement was to list confiscated items returned to Chet, including a few phones and two cigarettes.

After the verdict, a lawyer for Chet said he hoped the verdict would allow him to lodge a request for a royal pardon, like the one handed on Friday to Sokha, who was cleared of his conviction in a related case.

As he was led from court yesterday, Chet, a commune chief for the legacy party in Kampong Cham, denounced the verdict.

“The verdict gave me five years; it is no justice at all. I did not bribe, I was just asked to bring money for others. I will talk to my lawyers,” Chet said.

The charge against Chet concerns $500 donated by opposition supporters abroad that his wife attempted to offer Chandaraty’s mother as support when the hairdresser was first embroiled in the alleged sex scandal, which emerged by way of seemingly tapped phone conversations. The origins of those recordings have never been investigated.

Chandaraty’s mother has stated that she did not take the money, while Chet’s family maintains it was a humanitarian gesture.

Four members of rights group Adhoc and election official Ny Chakrya have also been charged with attempting to bribe Chandaraty.

Sokha, meanwhile, was in September sentenced to five months in prison for refusing to appear at court and answer questions in a “prostitution” case linked to the hairdresser, which also saw another two CNRP lawmakers charged.

The pardon of Sokha last week as part of an agreement between the parties has given hope that prisoners in related cases, like Chet, will soon be released.

Hem Socheat, the defendant’s attorney, said he would request a pardon soon from the King.

“I will put in the request soon, within 10 days. The King can decide on the pardon,” Socheat said.

Sreng Khoeun, Chet’s wife, added: “I want him to be released like Kem Sokha, because it is just one case”.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Cambodia, India agree to start direct flights, tourism exchanges

    Cambodia and India have agreed to start direct flight connections and promote closer tourism exchanges and cooperation in all areas after the Covid-19 saga comes to a close. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and newly-minted Indian