THE wife of a prominent businessman has been charged with plotting the rape and murder of Suv Chantha, the wife of a former government minister, a judge at Phnom Penh Municipal Court said yesterday.
Te Sam Ang said he ordered the suspect, Seng Chanda, to serve pretrial detention yesterday morning, one day after he charged her with attempted premeditated murder under Article 3 of the Law on Aggravating Circumstances.
“I have issued a detention warrant to order Seng Chanda to serve pretrial detention behind bars pending investigations,” he said.
The charge stems from a June 16 complaint filed by Suv Chantha accusing two men and two women of attempting to rape and murder her and her daughter.
Suv Chantha is the wife of Sun Chanthol, vice chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia and a former minister of public works and transport.
In the complaint, she alleged that the foursome – Chan Sokha, 37, Neang Sinath, 25, Yan Sothearith, 25, and Sok Lat, 30 – approached the family’s house in Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla commune in the early morning hours of June 13 after drugging the family’s guard dogs. According to the complaint, they fled after Suv Chantha woke up.
The four suspects were charged in late June. Their lawyer, Dun Vibol, said at the time that three of the four had told police they were hired to carry out the crime by Seng Chanda, who is the wife of Onkha Khaou Chuly, the chairman and founder of Khaou Chuly MMK Co Ltd, a construction and engineering company.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court questioned Seng Chanda for nearly two hours on June 29 before releasing her.
Te Sam Ang said yesterday that she had been brought in for a second round of questioning on Wednesday, after which she was charged and placed in the custody of the Interior Ministry overnight. She was sent to Prey Sar prison yesterday.
Her defence lawyer, Kar Savuth, declined to comment on the case when reached by phone yesterday afternoon.
Dun Vibol said yesterday that the three suspects who originally said Seng Chanda had ordered them to kill Suv Chantha have since retracted their confessions, saying they were issued under duress. They now maintain that they had no involvement in any plot.
The other suspect, Yan Sothearith, has not issued a confession at any point after his arrest, and has said that he was receiving medical treatment at his home for a minor knee injury when the plot was allegedly attempted, Dun Vibol said.
Seng Chanda faces at least 15 years behind bars if she is found guilty, Te Sam Ang said yesterday. He added that no hearing date in the case had been set.