Former – and possibly future – Khmer National United Party leader Nhek Bun Chhay is receiving treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure after being released from prison on bail, though a party official on Wednesday maintained the former senior military official's health was not the reason for the release.
Bun Chhay was released on Monday night following his arrest in August in relation to a 2007 drug bust. The arrest came shortly after a phone conversation was leaked in which he allegedly pledged to urge KNUP supporters to vote for the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party in communes in which his party was not running in local elections.
Current KNUP President Sing Kiri said Bun Chhay had high blood pressure and diabetes “long ago” before he was detained.
“After he was released his blood sugar level has increased and ... his legs are swollen,” he said. “He also has high blood pressure.”
Post reporters were denied a visit at Bun Chhay's home on Wednesday for health reasons, with a security guard claiming the veteran politician needed treatment for his swollen legs, possibly a symptom of diabetes. He said supporters were also waiting for the chance to see Bun Chhay, who leadership has said is likely to retake the party president mantle once his health improves.
However, current President Kiri said Bun Chhay’s health was not the reason for his release.
“Because there is not enough evidence or grounds … the court released him under supervision,” he said, adding that Bun Chhay had received treatment in prison. “We will wait and see about his condition, [and] when he could take the presidency.”
But Bun Chhay's incarceration did take a psychological toll, according to Kiri.
“Outside he has wide mental freedom ... but he did not have mental freedom and was not happy” in prison, he said.