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Sarath co-accused says confession was coerced

Tycoon Thong Sarath appears at the Phnom Penh court last year.
Tycoon Thong Sarath appears at the Phnom Penh court last year. Pha Lina

Sarath co-accused says confession was coerced

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard from a bodyguard of tycoon and murder suspect Thong Sarath that police had beaten him and offered him $20,000 to confess to being the triggerman in the killing of tycoon Ung Meng Cheu.

Meng Cheu was shot on November 22, 2014, by two persons on a motorbike, with bodyguard Seang Veasna accused of pulling the trigger and Sarath of masterminding the hit. Yesterday, however, Veasna interrupted the questioning of Phnom Penh police official Tey Visal to ask questions of his own. “I want to ask why Hun Touch and a man named Leng came to tell me to accept $20,000 from Ung Meng Cheu’s wife? What is that money for?” he asked.

According to Visal, Hun Touch was a police officer whom the public initially identified as a suspect after CCTV footage of the killing was released. Visal said Touch came to the police station to clarify that he wasn’t involved.

Visal also said that Veasna had confessed in his third round of questioning that he had committed the crime in exchange for money and a flat promised to him by Sarath. “We asked him without force,” he added.

Visal said the arrests of Veasna and his three surviving alleged accomplices came after police collected CCTV footage from three different places and compared the footage to the witness accounts. Sarath was finally arrested in Vietnam months later.

Veasna and Sao have both said in court that their confessions were coerced. The hearing will continue on February 10.

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