Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Wife of Christopher Howes's killer claims corruption in case



Wife of Christopher Howes's killer claims corruption in case

Wife of Christopher Howes's killer claims corruption in case

Om Tha has claimed that two men - the head of a local NGO and his uncle - offered to free her husband for a hefty price but failed.

THE prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court is investigating a claim that the wife of jailed former Khmer Rouge commander Khem Ngun paid a local lawyer and another man US$81,000 to obtain his release, but that they failed to do so.

The two men strenuously denied the allegations, saying they had not been paid anything by Om Tha, who is Khem Ngun's wife, and had simply told her that she had no chance of freeing her husband.

Khem Ngun was sentenced last year to 20 years in jail by a Phnom Penh court for the murder of British deminer Christopher Howes and his Cambodian interpreter Houn Hourth in 1996.

Heang Sopheak, the prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said Om Tha had accused Heang Rithy and Srey Sam Oeun. Heang Rithy is the president of the Cambodian National Research Organisation (CNRO), and Srey Sam Oeun is his uncle.

"I received her complaint and I called the suspects to court 10 days ago, but both denied her accusation and they have witnesses to back that up," Heang Sopheak said. "They haven't been charged with anything yet because I need more time to investigate the case."

Accused deny charges

Speaking on behalf of both lawyers, Heang Rithy told the Post Wednesday:

"We deny the allegation that the convicted ex-Khmer Rouge leader's wife Om Tha has filed with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court that we cheated her out of $81,000. There is no credible proof and no contract that we signed agreeing to help get her husband out of detention."

Heang Rithy said he had met Om Tha on just one occasion, after a request by his uncle Srey Sam Oeun.

"[The meeting was to discuss] providing legal services to help get her husband released from detention," he said. "But I told her that I can't help her because there is no evidence to prove his innocence."

Srey Sam Oeun told the Post: "The reason she had laid a complaint with the court is because she is angry that I couldn't take her to meet my cousin, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An."

The Post was unable to contact Om Tha for comment.

Damaging accusations

Heang Rithy said the charge was immensely damaging to their reputations, and they would file their own complaint to ensure the court restored their good names.

Yim Phanna, the governor of Anlong Veng district and a former Khmer Rouge military commander, told the Post he had met Om Tha and that she had claimed to have spent a lot of money on people who said they could intervene to get her husband released.

"I told her she shouldn't pay this money because it would be useless - the court has already tried him and it would be ineffective," Yim Phanna said. "I am very sad to hear she spent a lot of money on this. I told her she should keep the money and make a business for her family."

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • ‘No chance Cambodia booted out of ASEAN’

    A group of former and current Cambodian diplomats on Tuesday fired back at retired Singaporean diplomat Bihalari Kausikan after he proposed that ASEAN dismiss Cambodia and Laos from the bloc. In an open letter, the Cambodian diplomats said Kausikan’s remarks were made from a

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Woman seeks answers after arrest of American partner

    Filipina Lalaine de Guzman, 48, is demanding answers for the detention of her American partner by Cambodian immigration officers after he was arrested at their home almost 90 days ago. She said without an arrest warrant or proffering any criminal charges, Stephen Sidney Greatsinger, 56, is being detained