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Disgraced Takeo governor testifies at mistress’ murder trial

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
Mr Vannak and his brother Lay Narith are accused of covering a murder. KT/Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday continued the trial of former Takeo provincial governor Lay Vannak and former deputy provincial police chief Lay Narith over the murder of the governor’s mistress, whose death was allegedly covered up as a suicide in Takeo province last year.

At yesterday’s trial, the court completed questioning Mr Narith, 46, Men Samay, 36, Mr Vannak’s driver, the mistress’ maid Chan Ry and her husband Chim Vuth, 41.

Mr Narith told the court he learnt about the murder of Chev Sovathana after his brother Mr Vannak phoned him at about 9pm on January 26.

He said Mr Vannak had asked him to check on Ms Sovathana, whose body was found hanging in her rental room in Daun Keo city by Ms Ry.

Mr Narith said he arrived at Ms Sovathana’s rental house at about 10pm.

“When I arrived her house I saw many police officers and neighbours surrounding it,” he told the court. “The maid Chan Ry told me that Ms Sovathana committed suicide by hanging herself inside her room.”

“I then entered the room along with other provincial police and military police officers and saw her body hanging from curtain wires,” he added.

Mr Samay told the court that he was Mr Vannak’s personal bodyguard and driver and worked with him for more than a year before his arrest.

He said the day before she died, Ms Sowathana was angry with Mr Vannak for taking another woman out to have lunch with him at a hotel.

Mr Samay noted that about 5.30 pm on January 26 he drove Mr Vannak to meet Ms Sovathana at her rental house.

He said that after they arrived, Mr Vannak walked to Ms Sovathana’s room to have dinner with her.

He said both got into an argument after Ms Sovathana accused Mr Vannak of betraying her.

Mr Samay said Mr Vannak became angry with Ms Sovathana, walked out of the house and asked him to drive him home.

He added while Mr Vannak was in the car, Ms Sovathana held his hand and pulled him out before begging him to come back.

Mr Samay said Mr Vannak refused and he drove him home.

He said that half an hour later, Ms Ry telephoned him and told him that she found Ms Sovathana’s body hanging in her room.

Mr Samay said he informed Mr Vannak who told him to go to Ms Sovathana’s house on his motorbike and check.

He said he returned to the room at about 7.20 pm and found Ms Sovathana’s body.

Mr Samay said he telephoned Mr Vannak, who told him to take three phones belonging to Ms Sovathana and throw them in Ta Mok river.

He added that about three days later, Mr Vannak ordered him to search for the three phones and bring them to him.

Mr Samay noted that he managed to recover the phones and gave them to his boss.

Druing the session, Mr Vannak told the court that he did not kill his mistress.

He said the reason why he ordered Mr Samay to take the phones was because he was afraid photos of their relationship would go public.

“The reason why I ordered Mr Samay to take her phones was because we had taken a lot of pictures together,” Mr Vannak told the court.

Mr Vuth and Ms Ry told the court that on the day Ms Sovathana died both of them stayed in her rental house.

They said that Ms Sovathana committed suicide by hanging after she had an argument with Mr Vannk on the evening of January 26.

They added that police arrested them and forced them to confess that Ms Sovathana was killed by Mr Vannak and Mr Narith.

“On the evening of January 26, she was very angry with Mr Vannak,” Ms. Ry told the court. “After Mr Vannak left the house, she entered her room and locked the door before committing suicide.”

The trial continues today.

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