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Six questioned in death of National Assembly staffer

Ex-Takeo Governor Lay Vannak is brought to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday for questioning in the suspicious death of a National Assembly staffer.
Ex-Takeo Governor Lay Vannak is brought to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday for questioning in the suspicious death of a National Assembly staffer. Hong Menea

Six questioned in death of National Assembly staffer

Prosecutors on Monday continued to question six suspects – including former Takeo Governor Lay Vannak – believed to be involved in the death of a National Assembly staffer who was romantically involved with Vannak.

“The prosecutor is interrogating and checking the evidence in the case,” Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ly Sophanna said on Monday.

The case has fuelled intense speculation on social media that Vannak and his brother had a direct hand in 36-year-old Chev Sovathana’s death.

Vannak was transferred last week from his post as governor to an unspecified position at the Ministry of Interior without explanation, and officials have not said whether his removal was connected to the murder investigation.

The former governor, a CPP Central Committee member, was taken into custody Sunday afternoon, hours after he posted a denial on his Facebook page. In his post, he claimed Sovathana had attempted suicide multiple times before.

Vannak’s brother, provincial Deputy Police Chief Lay Narith, was arrested Saturday, along with four other suspects – Chan Ry, Sovathana’s maid; Choem Vuth, Ry’s husband; Men Sakmay, Vannak’s driver; and Tak Ratana, Narith’s driver.

Sovathana’s family could not be reached on Monday. According to police officials, they protested the original ruling of her death as a suicide. Though Sovathana was found hanged, her family noted there was no chair or ledge that she could have jumped from. Police later reopened the case as a murder investigation.

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