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Chea Sim advisers to appeal

Chea Sim advisers to appeal

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Pheng Kunthea Borey, former protocol chief for Senate President Chea Sim, speaks to reporters outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court after being sentenced to four years in jail last month.

Four former high-ranking associates of Cambodian Senate President Chea Sim this week will appeal their convictions for serious fraud as they all maintain their innocence, their lawyers said yesterday.

Lawyers for the four say the sentences, which range from three to fours years each, are an injustice to their clients, who were convicted on weak evidence.

Muong Sokun, attorney for former Chea Sim Protocol Chief Pheng Kunthea, said his high-profile client refused to accept her conviction.

“I think the verdict against her is unjust,” Muong Sokun told the Post yesterday. “To find justice for her, I will be going to meet her and appeal to the Court of Appeal on January 5.”

Muong Sokun also said the 56-year-old socialite has fallen seriously ill in Prey Sar prison, where she is now detained. Pheng Kunthea Borey, whose reputation has been seriously tarnished by the conviction, is suffering from mental exhaustion and paranoia as well as high blood pressure, her lawyer said.

Last month, Pheng Kunthea Borey, former Chea Sim advisers Chan Kosal and Ponlork Ho, and cabinet member Khieu Bora were charged with serious fraud. Ponlork Ho, an American-Cambodian, was also charged with impersonating a three-star general.

Ponlork Ho’s defence lawyer Thong Chan Rithy also told the Post his client planned to submit an appeal this week.

“There was no evidence to press such a serious sentence on my client,” Thong Chan Rithy said. “To find justice for him and oppose Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s decision, I will appeal the conviction.”

Similarly, Chan Kosal and Khieu Bora’s lawyer, Tep Money Cheath, said there was never any real evidence or proof against his clients that they had committed the crimes and that he will also lodge an appeal on January 5.

None of the 51 companies that were allegedly scammed by the high-ranking bureaucrats have lodged complaints or filed documentation to back up the charges against the foursome. A fifth man, Malaysian national Joe Harry Mahady, also known as “Dino”, was also sentenced to four years imprisonment in absentia for his involvement in the alleged crimes.

All four Cambodians claim Mahady, who apparently fled the country in September, duped them and that they had not knowingly been involved in any scams of their own volition.

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