Four questioned over tycoon’s murder

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Thong Sarath’s bodyguards at the municipal court. KT/Mai Vireak

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday resumed the trial of tycoon Thong Sarath and his bodyguards over the murder of Ung Meng Chue in 2014 by questioning one suspect, three witnesses and showing CCTV footage of the murder.

On November 22, 2014, Mr Meng Chue was shot dead in front of a fruit shop in Chamkar Mon district.

Mr Sarath and his bodyguards Seang Veasna, Ly Sao, Meas Sambath, Kouy Chanthol, and Chhun Pheaktra are accused of being involved in the murder.

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Mr Sarath was charged with initiating premeditated murder, while Mr Veasna and Mr Sao, who died of AIDS in 2016, were charged with premeditated murder.

Mr Chanthol, Mr Sambath and Mr Pheaktra were charged with being an accomplice to premeditated murder. All face a life sentence if convicted.

Mr Sarath did not attend the hearing yesterday due to health issues.

The court ran CCTV footage showing the moment Mr Meng Chue was gunned down and questioned several witnesses close to Mr Veasna, including his wife Chea Keophally and mother-in-law Phouk Phalla.

Both women testified that there was no way Mr Veasna could have committed the crime because the three were in Kampong Chhnang province on the day of the murder and left for Phnom Penh at about 9am and only arrived at 8.30pm.

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“My husband is innocent – he did not kill the victim because for the entirety of November 22, 2014, he was with me,” Ms Keophally said.

Chea Keochampa, an uncle of Mr Veasna, said Mr Veasna was in Kampong Chhnang taking care of Ms Phalla because she was sick.

Mr Veasna, who initially confessed to the murder, took the stand last week and said he was made to sign a false confession by police.

Before yesterday’s trial concluded, Mr Veasna was shown the CCTV footage obtained by police and asked if he recognised the man who pulled the trigger.

“I do not know this man,” Mr Veasna said. “This person who shot the victim in this video is not me.”

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“I did not kill the victim as police and the courts have charged,” he said.

Last month, Mr Sambath told the court that on the day of the murder, he was working late at the Borey 999 apartment with Mr Chanthol, Mr Sao, Mr Sarath and Mr Sarath’s newphew who only goes by the name “Tuy”.

He said that they all worked at about 7am for about 12 hours that day, noting that Mr Veasna did not show up for work.

The trial will resume on Wednesday.

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