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Murder case turns into trial by letters

Lay Huong leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after a hearing yesterday.
Lay Huong leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court after a hearing yesterday. Pha Lina

Murder case turns into trial by letters

The trial of Lay Huong – who stands accused of plotting to murder the wife of Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol – continued at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, with the defence presenting a letter from the chief witness for the prosecution suggesting the woman and the alleged victim had a financial agreement.

The letter from Chan Sokha – the only one of Huong’s purported co-conspirators to consistently admit to being involved in the thwarted plan to have Sun Sotha raped and murdered, along with her daughter – decries the conditions of her imprisonment and accuses Sotha of not honouring their agreement.

“The place for sleeping is so tight, it is very crowded, the toilet is dirty, I live with hundreds of prisoners,” said an attorney for Huong, reading from the letter. “You said you would take care of my child, but you did not.”

In a separate letter presented by the defence, Okhna Khaou Phallaboth, Huong’s husband – also implicated in the plot – said Chanthol fabricated the plot in order to split up his family. However, Phallaboth is heard apologising for the remarks in audio Chanthol’s lawyers presented.

Phallaboth’s father, Khaou Chuly – also implicated – also accused Chanthol of making up the plot in another letter, saying he would have no motive to kill Sotha, who is his daughter.

“How can I plan to kill my birth daughter and granddaughter? Even animals cannot kill their children,” he wrote.

Huong, who denies the accusations against her, was sentenced in absentia to life in prison over the plot, but is being retried following her arrest in Thailand. The trial is expected to conclude today.

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