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Tycoon’s bodyguards await murder trial behind bars

One of Thong Sarath's bodyguards is led by police outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court last year.
One of Thong Sarath's bodyguards is led by police outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court last year. Hong Menea

Tycoon’s bodyguards await murder trial behind bars

The detained bodyguards of murder suspect and real estate tycoon Thong Sarath had their pretrial detention extended yesterday, a Phnom Penh Municipal Court official said, a move their lawyer said was contrary to Cambodian law.

According to a court clerk, who spoke on condition of anonymity, investigating judge Ly Sok Leng still hadn’t closed the investigation into allegations that the bodyguards – Seang Veasna, 44; Ly Sao, 43; Meas Sambath, 27; and Kouy Chanthol, 29 – had shot and killed tycoon Ung Meng Cheu last year at Sarath’s behest.

“They now have been sent back to prison to await their trial in the future,” he said.

The four were arrested last December. Another bodyguard, Chhun Chetra, is also in detention for his alleged involvement, but did not have a hearing yesterday as he was arrested later.

Kea Eav, a lawyer for the accused, said yesterday that his clients should be released.

“I think that if, up until now, the court still could not find enough evidence against my clients . . . [it] should not continue detaining [them],” he said. By law, those accused of a felony can be held in pretrial detention for up to 18 months.

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