Chhoeun Chanthan, a former high-ranking military official and chief bodyguard to former Senate President Chea Sim, urged the Supreme Court yesterday to free him early from his 15-year jail sentence for a litany of charges.
Presiding Judge Khim Ponn said Mr Chanthan, 46, a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces lieutenant general, was sentenced in 2011 by a military court for “breach of trust, intentional destruction and embezzlement of state properties, illegal distribution of weapons, destroying military materials and lacking leadership and management.”
He said Mr Chanthan was arrested by military police in August 2011 at his luxury residence in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmorn district.
According to a military police report, Mr Chanthan was arrested on August 13, 2011, along with his three bodyguards at his luxury residence in Chamkarmorn district’s Boeng Keng Kang III commune.
Military police seized weapons and ammunitions including one Chinese-made machine gun with three cases of ammunition, five pistols, one AK-47 rifle and another machine gun along with more than 1,400 bullets.
Hundreds of items of military clothing and other military material were also taken from his house.
In February 2014, Mr Chanthan was convicted and sentenced. The military court also ordered him to pay more than $3 million in compensation to the Defence Ministry and to other plaintiffs in the case.
In 2015, the Appeal Court reduced his sentence to 15 years. He then appealed to the Supreme Court.
In addition to the military case, Mr Chanthan was convicted in 2012 by Phnom Penh Municipal Court and sentenced to 10 years for illegally possessing weapons and ammunition, issuing weapons and ammunition licences to people who were not deemed competent to use them, faking public documents and using those fake public documents.
At yesterday’s hearing, Mr Chanthan said he had pursued the case to the Supreme Court because the lower court could not achieve justice for him.
“I have not committed anything the military court convicted me of,” he said. “I did not sell guns or weapons.”
He argued yesterday that he had served more than seven years of his sentence with good behaviour and asked the court to release him.
His lawyer Put Theavy said Mr Chanthanwas left in poverty after the ministry confiscated his property, including his lands, luxury villas, residences.
“Mr Chanthan has nothing left besides the military prison cell he has stayed in,” Mr Theavy said. “His house is in prison.” A verdict is due on Monday of next week.