Phnom Penh Municipal Court last night released on bail former president of the Khmer National United Party Nhek Bun Chhay, who was jailed in August over a 2007 drug production case in Kampong Speu province.
According to a statement released yesterday evening by Investigating Judge Ly Lipmeng, Mr Bun Chhay was released from pre-trial detention and put him under court supervision.
“I…order the director of the Municipal Correction Centre (PJ) to release suspect Nhek Bun Chhay,” the judge said in his statement.
Court spokesman Ly Sophanna confirmed the judge ordered the release of Mr Bun Chhay.
In early August 2017, Mr Bun Chhay was placed in pre-trial detention over drug production accusations and illegal importation of substances to produce drugs, charges that were linked to a 2007 drug case in Kampong Speu.
In April 2007, a joint police force raided and confiscated about six tonnes of raw material used for drug production in Kampong Speu’s Phnom Sruoch district. The authorities arrested 18 people during the raid.
Mr Bun Chhay’s former personal adviser, Chea Chung, was already convicted over the 2007 case and fingered his former boss as the ringleader prior to his arrest in August.
Seung Kiri, the current KNUP president, said that he was aware of Mr Bun Chhay’s bail, but had not yet had the chance to speak with him.
“I will meet with him to discuss whether we give him back leadership of the party,” he said last night. “He is the founder of the party so we should give it back to him.”
Last year, Mr Bun Chhay left Funcinpec to launch the KNUP, the only party other than the CPP and CNRP to win a commune in the June 4 commune elections.
Mr Bun Chhay’s bail was granted last night as the National Election Committee opened party registration for the upcoming national election in July.
According to Mr Kiri, the KNUP is preparing candidates for the national election and will soon register with the NEC in the coming days.