Businesswoman Claims Minister Behind Arrest

A businesswoman who was arrested in Thailand in December and extradited to Cambodia over charges of plotting to rape and murder the wife and daughter of the country’s commerce minister claimed after being denied bail by the Appeal Court on Tuesday that the minister was involved in fabricating the case against her.

Lay Huong, 49, who has been charged with “initiative in a rape and premeditated murder attempt,” embraced her daughter outside the courtroom and claimed that her former common-law husband Khaou Phallaboth cooperated with Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol to have her imprisoned.

Lay Huong embraces her daughter outside the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh on Tuesday after having her bail request denied. (Khy Sovuthy/The Cambodia Daily)
Lay Huong embraces her daughter outside the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh on Tuesday after having her bail request denied. (Khy Sovuthy/The Cambodia Daily)

“My husband Khaou Phallaboth and His Excellency Sun Chanthol planned to create this story and arrest me to make me leave my daughter and family,” she told reporters. “This case was completely made up, so it is very unjust for me and my daughter.”

Contacted Tuesday, Mr. Chanthol declined to comment. Mr. Phallaboth could not be reached.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Presiding Judge Seng Sivutha said Ms. Huong’s bail request was denied “because this is a double criminal charge and she is suspected of involvement with the crime,” adding that the court had evidence implicating her in the crime.

The high-profile case has already seen the wife of octogenarian tycoon Khaou Chuly—Mr. Phallaboth’s father—placed in prison for 20 years over the alleged plot to break into Mr. Chanthol’s Phnom Penh villa and brutalize his wife and daughter.

According to a 2011 Phnom Penh Municipal Court decision, which was upheld by the appeal and supreme courts, Mr. Chuly’s wife, Khaou Seng Chanda, was the mastermind of a plan involving two maids and a hit man, who were also jailed.

No harm ever came to Mr. Chanthol’s family members.

Mr. Phallaboth previously accused Mr. Chanthol and his wife Sun Sotha, who is also the daughter of Mr. Chuly, of fabricating the case, but had a change of heart in February last year, when he apologized in an open letter published widely in local media.

“The speech in which I accused His Excellency Sun Chanthol and Her Excellency Sun Sotha of creating this case on purpose to accuse Seng Chanda and Lay Huong in order to occupy the property of Khaou Chuly’s family was a misunderstanding and is absolutely seriously wrong,” he wrote.

(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)

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