The woman at the centre of an alleged love affair scandal involving CNRP leader Kem Sokha was yesterday grilled by anti-terror police, who maintained their investigation – triggered by a defamation complaint – was routine.
Hairdressing salon worker Khom Chandaraty spent four hours at the Interior Ministry answering questions over the alleged affair, brought to light by a series of flirtatious phone conversations leaked on social media, purportedly featuring her talking with Sokha.
Speaking to reporters after the interview, Chandaraty said she rejected assertions by the officers it was her voice on the tapes, some of which were posted on her Facebook account named “Mon Srey”, which she said was hacked.
She said she told police she knew Sokha through her work at the Khmer Angkor Barber, where he had been “three or four times”, and was not romantically involved with the Cambodia National Rescue Party president, who has not responded directly to the infidelity accusations.
“He phoned to me only to ask whether the barber was free for his haircut … for the first time, he asked his bodyguard to call me whether the barber is free … when the barber cut his hair, I cut his nails at the same time,” she said, adding that her boss had given Sokha her number to call when he wanted a haircut.
Police summonsed Chandaraty after prominent anti-government activist Thy Sovantha lodged a defamation complaint in response to disparaging comments about her made by the man on the tape.
Asked by police if she’d defamed Sovantha, Chandaraty said she responded with a question. “Why I should defame her … I have never met her.”
The case, which the CNRP labelled a “dirty tricks” ploy by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, has raised questions, including about whether Sokha’s phone was tapped.
The CPP have denied involvement, though the assigning of anti-terror police to the case has raised eyebrows.
Yesterday, director of the department Y Sok Khy addressed his department’s role. “We are judicial officers and have received an order from the municipal court,” Sok Khy said.
Sok Khy said Chandaraty, who is being assisted by rights group Adhoc, had cooperated.
He would not say whether Sokha would be summonsed next. “It depends on the investigation,” he said.
Meanwhile, a group of students, who have organised protests against Sokha since the scandal emerged, yesterday claimed they would file a lawsuit against Chandaraty for adultery.
However, legal expert Sok Samoeun said that under Cambodia’s monogamy law – which may have been invalidated by the new penal code – only a spouse could bring such a complaint against a partner in a registered marriage.