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KNUP leader Nhek Bun Chhay charged over 2007 drugs case

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

KNUP leader Nhek Bun Chhay charged over 2007 drugs case

Political fixture and former Co-Defence Minister Nhek Bun Chhay was officially charged yesterday with conspiracy to produce drugs and importing drug components after being linked to a decade-old bust by one of the men convicted in the original case.

Bun Chhay – a former royalist and the head of the minor Khmer National United Party – was arrested at his home on Thursday and questioned through Saturday. Yesterday, a court document from the prosecutor’s office said Bun Chhay had been formally charged in a case dating back to April 1, 2007, in Kampong Speu’s Phnom Sruoch district.

In a raid at the time, police seized 2 tonnes of “precursor” chemicals, including a reported 400 to 500 kilograms of chloroephedrine, at a clandestine operation.

In all, 14 people, including Chinese and Thai nationals, were arrested. One of the suspects was Chea Chung, a former adviser to Bun Chhay during his term as co-defence minister in the 1990s, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his involvement.

The court document said that Chung was “looking for justice”, and on July 31 linked Bun Chhay to the case, which – along with other “evidence” – led to the KNUP leader’s arrest.

Bun Chhay’s fortunes had been waning after an alleged recording surfaced of him speaking to a Cambodia National Rescue Party deputy president, a call Bun Chhay said was a case of dialling a wrong number.

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