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Former KNUP leader Nhek Bun Chhay questioned over drug bust

KNUP leader Nhek Bun Chhay (second right) is driven away from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in August after being charged in relation to a decade-old drug case.
KNUP leader Nhek Bun Chhay (second right) is driven away from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in August after being charged in relation to a decade-old drug case. Pha Lina

Former KNUP leader Nhek Bun Chhay questioned over drug bust

Former Khmer National United Party head Nhek Bun Chhay was questioned at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday, the first time the former co-defence minister has been seen in public since he was detained in August.

The former party president and general was arrested and provisionally charged in early August in relation to a 2007 drug bust in Kampong Speu’s Phnom Sruoch district. During the raid, police seized 2 tonnes of drug production “precursor” chemicals, including a reported 400 to 500 kilograms of chloroephedrine.

Chea Chung, a former adviser to Bun Chhay during his term as co-defence minister in the 1990s, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his involvement in the operation, and a court document released in August 2017 said Chung had linked Bun Chhay to the case.

Sing Kiri, elected KNUP president after Bun Chhay’s arrest, said he did not have details of the questioning on Friday.

Bun Chhay’s legal problems appear to have begun after a leaked phone conversation appeared to show him conversing with then-Cambodia National Rescue Party Deputy President Eng Chhay Eang, promising votes from his supporters in communes the KNUP did not contest during the commune elections last July.

Following the release of the conversation, he was stripped of his titles. Bun Chhay then proceeded to hand over his guns to the Defence Ministry only to be arrested a day later.

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