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Woman Involved in Alleged Luon Sovath Scandal Denies Posting Videos

Activist monk Luon Sovath and Chris Kelly in front of the Household Cavalry Museum in London, England. (Courtesy of Luon Sovath)
Activist monk Luon Sovath and Chris Kelly in front of the Household Cavalry Museum in London, England. (Courtesy of Luon Sovath)

A woman in Siem Reap, who is linked to a rape investigation into activist monk Luon Sovath, told VOA Khmer on Tuesday that an unknown person was impersonating her on Facebook and posting purportedly incriminating videos between the monk and four women.

Tim Ratha, who is a resident of Siem Reap province, told VOA Khmer that an unknown individual was impersonating her in the “Srey Da Chi-Kraeng” Facebook page, where videos purportedly between Luon Sovath and four other women were posted.

The alleged videos, involving a mother and three women, one of them is Tim Ratha, is being used by the Siem Reap police to investigate Luon Sovath for alleged rape.

Tim Ratha said she had posted a complaint dated June 19 on Facebook, addressed to Interior Minister Sar Kheng, alleging that the Facebook account was fake and being used by “ill-intentioned people.”

“Thus, I would like to submit a complaint to the Facebook company to seek justice for me and my whole family,” she said in the complaint.

Additionally, she denied having any sexual relations with Luon Sovath but did not want to speak for her sisters and mother. The four videos in question have been circulating on Facebook, and seemed to originate from one account, “Srey Da Chi-Kraeng” that was created on May 30. The videos, according to the accompanying text on Facebook, are recordings with four women – a mother and three daughters.

After posting the videos, the account has remained inactive since June 4. Tim Ratha’s Facebook account is linked to one of the posts, along with two of her sisters.

“I know the monk since the pagoda [he stays at] is in front of my house,” she said. “I did not have a [intimate] relationship with him. It affects my dignity and our mind,” she said.

“I don’t want to talk much and I want police to work on that,” she said. “I want to be quiet,” she added.

The Siem Reap Provincial Court has initiated a preliminary investigation into rape allegations based on a complaint submitted by one of the four sisters. Tim Ratha said she had not filed the complaint.

Duong Thavry, deputy police chief in charge of anti-human trafficking for Siem Reap, said on Tuesday the police had spoken to all the sisters about the accusations against the activist monk, after which one of them had made the rape allegation.

“She wanted to sue. We didn't force her,” Duong Thavry said. “Previously, she didn't want to sue because she wanted to keep it confidential. She wanted to hide it.”

“After the video clips leaked, it affected her name, and then she filed a complaint,” she said.

Duong Thavry denied providing additional evidence, apart from the Facebook videos, that were being used in the investigation against the monk.

“I can't reveal more about this rape case since it is the police’s investigation. But there is enough evidence that is why I filed the case to the court,” she said.

Duong Thavry said she was aware of Tim Ratha’s complaint and denial, but that it was a different sister who had made the rape charge.

Siem Reap court spokesperson Chuon Sophanha said on Tuesday that a victim had complained about the monk and that authorities were investigating the monk for rape.

“The investigation is still ongoing,” he said, refusing to answer any other questions.

According to Article 239 of the Cambodian Criminal Code, a person can be imprisoned for five to ten years for rape, and up to 15 years if the crime was committed under aggravating circumstances.

Khieu Sopheak, Interior Ministry spokesman, said the victim, referring to Tim Ratha, should have filed the complaint with local police if there was a fake Facebook account impersonating her, rather than addressing it to Interior Minister Sar Kheng.

“She can communicate with local authorities. Posting on a Facebook page, that is not effective,” he said.

The activist monk, who is in hiding, has “vehemently” denied the accusation calling it politically motivated. He did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

The Monk Council in Siem Reap announced on June 3 that he had been expelled from the clergy, accusing him of having sexual intercourse.

Additionally, local police executed a search warrant and confiscated materials from the monk’s home. Luon Sovath said in a post last week that two “nephews” had been questioned by the police and his belongings, such as his SUV, camera equipment, and refrigerator had been taken by the police.