The corruption trial against four former high-ranking members of Senate president Chea Sim’s inner coterie accused of engineering scams involving hundreds of millions of dollars will begin next week, a court official said yesterday.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Te Sam Ang said the trial against the four – accused of defrauding at least 51 foreign companies in scams that date back almost a decade – would commence on Tuesday.
“So far, their cases have been completely investigated. They will be put on trial on December 20,” he said yesterday.
Chea Sim’s former chief of protocol, Pheng Kunthea Borey, is accused of masterminding the scams – allegedly charging companies to secure the Senate president’s signature for a number of fake humanitarian and development projects.
She will face charges of fraud and forging public documents along with former Chea Sim advisers Chan Kosal, Ponlork Ho and former member of his cabinet Khieu Bora.
Pheng Kunthea Borey’s defence lawyer, Suy Chhun Hak, yesterday welcomed the announcement of the trial date and reiterated that his client was not guilty of the charges against her and committed no wrongdoing.
“I am now already [prepared] to work and defend my client, Mrs. Pheng Kunthea Borey, for her trial which will take place next week. I have already prepared documents and witnesses for it,” he said.
The defence lawyer of Chan Kosal and Khieu Bora, Tep Mony Cheath, also reiterated that his clients were not guilty and had never received any money from Chea Sim’s humanitarian projects.
“But these accusations have impacted on the honour of [one of] the highest Cambodian leaders, Samdech Chea Sim. Therefore, I hope that the court will find justice for them,” he said.
Ponlork Ho and his defence lawyer could not be reached for comments yesterday, but have also previously denied the charges against him.
Chhoeun Chanthan, the former chief of Chea Sim’s bodyguard unit, has also been arrested and charged in connection with the alleged scams.