Appearing before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, 24-year-old salon worker Khom Chandaraty purportedly reversed her public position of the past six weeks.
According to the case’s prosecutor, Chandaraty identified herself and CNRP acting president Kem Sokha as the voices on an audio recording of an intimate conversation released anonymously on social media in March.
Seang Sok told reporters after the five-hour-long proceedings that during the course of questioning, Chandaraty, who is also known by her nickname Srey Mom and Facebook moniker Mon Srey, admitted it was her in the recordings.
“She answered in front of me and admitted that the voice in the conversation between her and Kem Sokha is really her voice,” he said.
Last month, Chandaraty, in her first public appearance, denied she was the voice on the recordings or that she was having an affair with Sokha.
She is being accused of prostitution and having lied to the police in a case legal experts and women’s activists alike have decried as being without legal merit.
Speaking to local media outlet Fresh News, Sok, who could not be reached despite numerous attempts, elaborated on the details provided by Chandaraty during her questioning yesterday.
He said Chandaraty admitted to meeting Sokha twice at his hotel in Bangkok, once last November and again this February, where he tried to “seduce” her.
He also gave her $3,000 and promised to buy her a house, as well as handing her $300 for shopping in Bangkok, Sok said.
Following revelations of the audio recordings, Sok said Sokha asked Chandaraty to “lie” to the media and public about their alleged relationship.
Sok told the web news outlet he could not comment on whether Chandaraty would be brought in again for questioning, adding that he will “check that possibility and take into account further procedures”.
On exiting the court, Chandaraty said she would not comment on the day’s proceedings as it was “complicated”.
“I have nothing to say and I just said what is the truth and I want justice,” she said, before entering a waiting vehicle.
Her lawyer, Try Chhun, would not confirm or deny Sok’s account of the interrogation, and said the questions centred around the audio recording and the people in question, adding that she hoped this would lead to her client being cleared of the accusations.
“The important thing is that the prosecutor has not charged her yet, and that makes me confident that there will be no charges,” Chhun said.
Chhun maintained that she was not going to reveal details of the questioning and directed any inquiries to Sok.
Women’s rights advocate Thida Kus said she was still concerned whether the law was being fairly implemented in the case, saying that in her opinion Chandaraty had “not violated the law”.
She went on to call for Sokha to speak out publicly about the case and end his silence.
“Though it is his internal affair, he has to come out and talk about it so that he will be a victim in this case as well and not only Srey Mom,” she said.
Claiming the case was an example of politicians using a woman to gain political mileage, grassroots political activist Kem Ley said this “game” would not fool the public.
“Srey Mom is just a victim of savage politicians,” he said. “I am very sorry that a young lady was used as a political tool.”
CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday said that as spokesperson for the party he would only comment on matters of national importance and not “small or individual things”.
Additional reporting by Ananth Baliga