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NGOs Targeted Over Mistress’ Lies

Khmer Times Share:
Khum Chandaraty, also known as Srey Mom, the woman involved in am alleged sex scandal with CNRP acting president Kem Sokha, speaks during news conference at the Adhoc office in Phnom Penh. KT/Vireak Mai

Police will investigate a number of NGO workers who government officials say were involved in the false testimony of Khom Chandaraty, the alleged mistress of opposition acting president Khem Sokha, after Ms. Chandaraty published an open letter accusing the officials of encouraging her to lie to police.
Among those accused in the letter are Ny Sokha, head of monitoring at Adhoc; Adhoc officials Nay Vanda, Yi Soksan and Lim Mony; Thida Khus, director of Silaka; Ros Sopheap, director of Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC); and Soeun Saly, an official from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Similar accusations were leveled against opposition commune chief Seang Chet of Kampong Cham province’s Kampong Siem district. Ms. Chandaraty said in her letter that at the behest of Mr. Sokha, Mr. Chet gave $500 to her family and promised to help her mother travel abroad in exchange for continuing to conceal facts about the alleged affair.
Mr. Chet was arrested yesterday by the Anti-Corruption Unit over allegations he was involved in giving bribes.
During a speech to 3,000 workers in preparation for International Labor Day, Prime Minister Hun Sen discussed Ms. Chandaraty’s case, according to Council of Ministers spokesmen.
“Samdech Techo [Hun Sen] said those who give bribes to the witness would face jail time based on the law,” spokesman  Khieu Kanharith posted on his Facebook page.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said: “Ms. Sreymom and Sokha’s case is a private matter, but the truth that NGO officials persuaded the victim to tell a lie, that is social injustice that the authorities must take legal action on. The police must take action on this case to find the truth. This is really inappropriate for NGO officials to advise victims to tell a lie to the public and the court.”
The Ministry of Justice released a statement on April 23 condemning the alleged actions of the NGO officials that Ms. Chandaraty claimed had told her to lie, asking authorities to take further investigative steps.
Mr. Ny Sokha denied Ms. Chandaraty’s accusations, however. Adhoc had previously been providing Ms. Chandaraty with legal counsel.
“She should not put the blame on Adhoc or NGO officials,” he said. “We did not persuade or incite her to tell a lie. She came to us saying that she was scared and requesting help as a victim.”
Ms. Sopheap, the director of GADC, also denied the accusations against her, saying she and Ms. Khus met with Ms. Chandaraty once on the evening of April 18, the night before she was to appear in court.
“On behalf of the organization promoting rights to protect woman, we met her only to ask what we could do to help because she was in a state of fear. We thought she was innocent in the alleged love affair,” Ms. Sopheap said.
In response to the allegations by Ms. Chandaraty, Adhoc published a 15-minute video of an interview with her in early March, when she first came to ask for legal help from the organization. In it, the embattled former hairdresser describes her concern and shock regarding the alleged sex scandal.
She is seen strongly denying any involvement with or knowledge of leaked audio recordings that last week she claimed featured both her and Mr. Sokha’s voices.
Senior Cambodian National Rescue Party official Eng Chhai Eang said of Mr. Chet’s arrest in a Facebook post: “The arrest, based on a person’s claim, is no different from the Khmer Rouge regime.”
Mr. Chhai Eang could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Yesterday, a youth group led by outspoken CNRP critic Srey Chamroeun gathered to demand National Assembly president Heng Samrin, discipline Mr. Sokha, claiming the alleged sex scandal had strongly affected the integrity of the assembly.
Thy Sovantha, a former prominent CNRP activist who is in the process of suing Mr. Sokha for defamation because her name was mentioned in the tapes that allegedly featured his voice, said the up to $1 million she is requesting from the CNRP’s acting president will be used to “help orphans.”
Political analyst Sou Chantah believes the scandal was devised by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party in order to tarnish Mr. Sokha’s name.
“I think the court should investigate the source of the leaked audio conversation first to find out the truth behind this. For the CNRP, I think they should remain silent and focus on strengthening the party so they can prove to their supporters their desire to make change for the society,” he said.

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