Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Detentions extended for officials in ‘bribery’ case

Detentions extended for officials in ‘bribery’ case

Election official and former Adhoc staffer Ny Chakrya is escorted out of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after his hearing.
Election official and former Adhoc staffer Ny Chakrya is escorted out of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after his hearing. Niem Chheng

Detentions extended for officials in ‘bribery’ case

The four officials from local rights group Adhoc and the National Election Committee (NEC) official jailed six months ago for “bribing” the alleged mistress of deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha will remain in jail for up to six more months without trial, a judge ruled yesterday.

Adhoc’s Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda and Lim Mony, and the NEC’s Ny Chakrya – also a former top official at Adhoc – were jailed in April for allegedly offering $204 to the family of Khom Chandaraty, who accused them of telling her to deny the alleged affair.

They have since been in pre-trial detention, and after questioning at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, they said judge Theam Chan Piseth had extended their detention for further investigation.

“The judge decided to delay the detention for another six months. I do not understand why,” Mony told reporters outside the courtroom.

Vanda, meanwhile, appealed for people to keep sight of the bigger picture: “Please go and register to vote. Stay strong and struggle together for positive change,” he said.

Sam Sokong, defence attorney for Chakrya, yesterday said the detention extension was unreasonable and that the court should release the accused if it does not have enough evidence to start a trial.

“During the six-month period, the judge did not make any effort, meaning that the court did not do its best to investigate as is set by the law, then at the end, just decided to delay it,” he told reporters.

The lawyer said the judge asserted there were witnesses who still needed to be questioned. However, he noted Article 208 of the Code of Criminal Procedures only lets a judge extend a six-month pre-trial detention with “correct and clear reasons”.

“If we look at the legal procedures, the detention is not correct, because this case is not that complex,” Sokong said. “There have been no obstacles preventing the judge’s work, so a duration of six months is enough for the investigating judge.

“If the judge cannot provide evidence, he must drop the charges and set my client free. Only when the country is in chaos is a delay possible.”

Kea Sophal, lawyer for the four Adhoc officials, could not be reached for comment. Ly Sophana, a spokesman for the municipal court, confirmed the extension of the pre-trial detention but declined to comment on the legality of the decision.

Adhoc officials have said the $204 was a small amount to support Chandaraty – to whom they were providing legal advice while the government mounted a campaign against her and Sokha – and that they never instructed her to deny an affair.

The court is set to put to trial today Seang Chet, an opposition commune chief who also stands accused of bribery in the case, and Thak Lany, whom the prime minister is suing for defamation for allegedly claiming he killed political analyst Kem Ley.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hundreds of children in hospital with dengue

    A serious dengue fever epidemic is affecting Cambodia, with nearly 600 children hospitalised in the five Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals on Monday alone, a statement posted on the Kantha Bopha Foundation’s official Facebook page said on Wednesday. Because Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals provide

  • Gov’t to probe Chinese exports to US via Sihanoukville

    The government is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are using Chinese-owned special economic zones in Cambodia to export goods to the US and avoid tariffs, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay. The move comes after US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said the US had

  • Sihanoukville building collapse death toll rises to 19

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on Sunday that the government will act against those responsible for the collapse of a seven-storey building in Sihanoukville on Saturday, which resulted in 19 dead and 24 injured as of Sunday evening. Sar Kheng said three Chinese nationals and one

  • Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

    Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials