Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Oknha murder near verdict

Oknha murder near verdict

Thong Sarath’s former bodyguards Kouy Chanthol (left) and Meas Sambath, seen yesterday outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Thong Sarath’s former bodyguards Kouy Chanthol (left) and Meas Sambath, seen yesterday outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Hong Menea

Oknha murder near verdict

Prosecutors in the murder trial of business tycoon Thong Sarath for killing rival business man Ung Meng Cheu have demanded $60 million in compensation for the victim’s family, while Sarath’s defence lawyer has accused investigating police of torturing suspects.

The trial is due to conclude today after which the judges go into deliberation. Meng Cheu, who along with his alleged killer held the royally granted title of “oknha”, or tycoon, was gunned down as he exited his Lexus on Sihanouk Boulevard near the Olympic Stadium one evening in November 2014.

“The action was very cruel,” said the plaintiff’s lawyer, Heang Makara. “I would like the court to sentence the accused heavily according to law and demand the compensation of $50 million from Thong Sarath and $10 million from the perpetrator and accomplices.”

Prosecuting lawyers also requested that the testimony of 11 witnesses, all relatives of one of the accused, be thrown out as evidence.

Sarath stands accused of ordering the hit over an alleged debt. His bodyguard Seang Veasna is accused of pulling the trigger. Other Sarath bodyguards Meas Sambath, Chhun Chetra and Kouy Chanthol are also being tried as accomplices. Another, Ly Sao, later died in prison.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Business tycoon Thong Sarath escorted by officials for his appearance at the Phnom Penh Court in 2015. Pha Lina

Defence lawyer Tuot Lux suggested that Sao died as a result of torture during his interrogation. “Why did Ly Sao die? He must have died because of torture. When he was arrested on December 3, 2014, his health was well. On December 4, when he was brought to court, he needed help with walking. Later on he was brought to hospital and died,” Lux said.

Lux called for all charges to be dropped, accused the police of manipulating the police report, and demanded that any witnesses that contributed to the report also be made to testify in court.

He also again referenced testimony from Meng Cheu’s driver who claimed his employer had never had a dispute with Sarath.

In a moment reminiscent of the OJ Simpson trial, Veasna’s lawyer requested that his client be allowed to try on the outfit that he allegedly wore during the shooting, suggesting that it wouldn’t fit his client.

“Just let him wear to see, there’s nothing wrong with that,” said lawyer Kea Eav.

The judges deliberated for 15 minutes, before deciding the clothes could be shown to the court, but Veasna couldn’t try them on.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ethnic group ‘disappointed’ to be denied French visas to attend court

    Eleven people at the centre of a case involving seven indigenous Bunong villages in Mondulkiri province pursuing legal action in France have expressed disappointment after the French embassy in Phnom Penh denied their visa applications to attend court. A press release said the 11 included a

  • Cambodia nabs 12th place in best retirement destinations

    Cambodia is an expatriate hotspot for those dreaming of living a more luxurious lifestyle at an affordable cost, according to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2019. For the fourth year in a row, Cambodia took the top spot in the Cost of Living category.

  • EU starts EBA withdrawal

    The EU on Monday announced that it has begun the 18-month process of withdrawing the Kingdom’s access to its preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement over “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”. However, the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) said

  • PM: War result of foreign meddling

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Sunday that Cambodia’s recent history of conflict was caused by foreign interference. “The wars that happened were caused by provocation, incitement, support, smearing and interference from foreign powers, and the group of ignorant people who pushed Cambodia to