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Family of Jailed Tycoon Say Trial Was Not Transparent

The funeral of the late tycoon, Ung Meng Cheu.
The funeral of the late tycoon, Ung Meng Cheu.

The wife and relatives of a business tycoon arrested for the murder of another businessman have appealed to Prime Minister Hun Sen to release the suspect, his bodyguards, and his parents, who were all arrested after the murder.

They say Thong Sarat was arrested and jailed without a transparent trial for the killing of Ung Meng Cheu, late last year.

“We, the weak women, who bear the burden of small children, don’t have the capacity or power to seek justice for our husbands, so we merely have 10-finger hands to greet and urge [Hun Sen] and his wife, who are the second parents of us, to please give mercy,” the family wrote in a petition. They called on authorities to reopen an investigation “without bias.”

Thong Sarat was convicted in absentia in December 2014 of orchestrating the shooting of Ung Meng Cheu, the owner of the Diamond Cement Company, in November that year. Thong Sarat was arrested in Vietnam, where he had fled, in April this year. His bodyguards were arrested, along with his parents. They were charged with illegal weapon possession.

But his wife, Teav Thida, and relatives say he was framed, along with other associates. This has created hardship for their families and children, the petition says.

Court officials could not be reached for comment. At least one cabinet official said he was not aware of the petition.

Pak San, 33, the wife of Kouy Chanthul, who is in Prey Sar prison, told VOA that she believed Prime Minister Hun Sen will appeal to the court to reopen the case. “I believe that he’ll find justice for us, because we are the poor, receiving injustice, meaning: my husband didn’t do this crime.”