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Ousted Takeo governor's brother questioned in suspicious death of National Assembly staffer, police say

Suspects in the suspicious death of National Assembly staffer Chev Sovathana arrive at Phnom Penh Municipal Court Saturday afternoon.
Suspects in the suspicious death of National Assembly staffer Chev Sovathana arrive at Phnom Penh Municipal Court Saturday afternoon. Hong Menea

Ousted Takeo governor's brother questioned in suspicious death of National Assembly staffer, police say

Lay Narith, deputy police chief of Takeo province and brother of recently ousted governor Lay Vannak, is among a group of suspects to be questioned Saturday in connection to the suspicious death of a 36-year-old woman who worked at the National Assembly, police confirmed.

Chev Sovathana, a CPP Youth working group member and National Assembly staffer, was found hanged in her room in Takeo in January. Her death was ruled a suicide, despite her family contending there was no chair or ledge from which she could have jumped.

The death is now being investigated as a murder, and a group of suspects, including Narith, the Takeo provincial deputy police chief, was brought to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning on Saturday. The number of suspects was not disclosed.

Sok Khemarin, head of the penal crime department at the Ministry of Interior, confirmed the group would be questioned. But he rejected reports published by the online Swift News outlet and elsewhere that Narith's brother Vannak, the former governor who was transferred from his post to a position at the Ministry of Interior last Monday, was among the suspects.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ly Sophana declined to comment, directing all questions to police.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak on Saturday described the case as “a knot” that police investigators are working to undo. "We are reinvestigating this case because of the dissatisfaction of the family and our authorities who were also dissatisfied," he said.

Sopheak said police had questioned witnesses and the maid who lived with the deceased woman, who “gave clear information".

National Assembly spokesperson Leng Peng Long confirmed that Sovathana had been employed at the assembly and had been an active ruling party youth group member.

"She was a hardworking person," he said. "We regret her loss."

Updates to follow

A previous version of this story misspelled the name of Sok Khemarin, head of the penal crime department at the Ministry of Interior.

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