Businessman Summonsed Over Alleged Rape-Murder Plot

Khaou Chuly, an 83-year-old businessman who founded one of Cambodia’s largest construction firms, has been summonsed to appear alongside his stepdaughter at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today for questioning over charges that they were accomplices to a planned rape and murder of Mr. Chuly’s own daughter and granddaughter.

Mr. Chuly’s wife, Khaou Seng Chanda, is serving a 20-year prison sentence for her role in organizing the alleged plot to break into the home of Sun Sotha, Mr. Chuly’s daughter, and murder her and her then 9-year-old daughter in 2010.

“The court summons Khaou Chuly, 83, and Huy Sokleap, 23, to be questioned on March 27 as ac­complices in premeditated rape and attempted murder,” a municipal court letter sent to Ms. Sokleap, dated March 7, says.

The plaintiff in the case is Sun Chanthol, the husband of Ms. Sotha, who, as vice chairman of the Council for Development of Cambodia, is one of the country’s most influential figures in controlling foreign investment.

Mr. Chuly said Tuesday that the allegations against him were untrue and that he had requested the court to delay its questioning because he is ill.

“I am concerned by the summons because I am not capable of the sort of thinking that I am charged with,” Mr. Chuly said. “Sokleap and I request that the court delay our questioning because I have heart disease and high blood pressure.”

Mr. Chanthol on Tuesday declined to answer questions on the case.

During the final appeal in the case against Ms. Seng Chanda, the municipal court opened a new investigation into the role of Mr. Chuly’s son, Khaou Phalla­both, and daughter-in-law, Lay Huong, in the plot.

The two have since been charged with organizing the plot and are cited in the municipal court summons as the “masterminds of the attempted rape and murder.”

Mr. Phallaboth, who is himself a highly successful businessman with vast holdings in Cambodia, and Ms. Huong have now left the country and are living in France, according to Ms. Sokleap.

Mr. Chanthol’s lawyer Pal Chandara said Tuesday that he believes the court is moving forward with the case because “we have enough evidence to charge them [Mr. Phallaboth and Ms. Huong], but they do not have exculpatory evidence.”

The municipal court trial in 2011 against Ms. Seng Chanda, however, was marked by a complete lack of evidence until two witnesses—a maid employed by Mr. Chanthol and another em­ployed by Ms. Seng Chanda—changed their initial testimony and implicated her in the plot to murder her own stepdaughter.

None of the eight people who have now been implicated in the case were seen at Mr. Chantol and Ms. Sotha’s Phnom Penh vil­la on the night of the alleged crime. No incriminatory evidence has been put forth apart from the testimony of two maids, who initially pled in­nocent to charges of conspiring with Ms. Seng Chanda but later admitted to involvement in the foiled assassination plot and were given 18-year jail sentences.

Mr. Chuly, who has 12 children, has said that the family dispute stems from competing claims to his fortune, and that it is Mr. Chanthol who has manufactured the murder allegations in order to position himself for a greater inheritance.

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