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Health woes speed fraud appeal

Health woes speed fraud appeal

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Pheng Kunthea Borey, the former protocol chief of Senate President Chea Sim, arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in 2011. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

After calls from their lawyers late last month to speed up the appeals process, three former advisers to Senate President Chea Sim convicted of fraud last year will appear before the Appeals Court on November 7, court deputy prosecutor Tan Senarong said yesterday.

The three defendants – Pheng Kunthea Borey, Ponlork Ho and Khieu Bora – were first convicted last year for creating fake infrastructure and humanitarian contracts in order to take hefty commissions from foreign investments.  Recently, however, worsening health problems have led their attorneys to call for hastier appeals, fearing that the trio may be unable to attend their own appeals if proceedings are delaying too long.

Thong Chan Rithy?, Ponlork Ho’s defence lawyer, said he had received the summons, but even November 7 might be too late.

“My client, Ponlork Ho, is very sick now.  He has had diabetes and high blood pressure for a long time,” he said.  “Now, I am not sure whether he will able to attend his appeal hearing or not.”

Rithy maintained his client’s innocence, adding that Ho had asked for medication in preparation for the hearing, and that the 58-year-old “has been looking forward to having his appeal for a long time”.

Kunthea Borey’s attorney, Pich Soriya, said that his client – who also has high blood pressure and is recovering from a heart attack – had been in and out of the Prey Sar prison hospital, and had even been taken for treatment at a hospital in Phnom Penh.

Chan Kosal, another former advisor convicted in the same scam, died of lung cancer in a Prey Sar prison cell in June.

Neither Khieu Bora, nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]

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