Court Blocks Samay Request

The president of Siem Reap court has rejected a request to remove the investigating judge from the case of Swiss national Rudolf Knuchel, arrested last month for alleged acts of de­bauchery against teen-age boys.

Knuchel’s attorney, Benson Samay, had demanded Invest­igating Judge Tan Senarong, who denied bail to Knuchel, be re­moved for abuse of power. But Siem Reap Court Pres­ident Plang Chhlam said late last week that the request was “not a reasonable one.”

Plang Chhlam said he sent a letter notifying Justice Minister Uk Vithun that he was keeping Tan Senarong on the case. Justice Ministry officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

Benson Samay, calling the decision to refuse bail to Knuchel “ridiculous,” vowed previously that he would file a $50 million lawsuit against the investigating judge. He couldn’t be reached for comment on the Siem Reap Court president’s decision.

Tan Senarong confirmed he is staying on the case. “I will still invest­igate [the case] to find more evidence.”

He said Benson Samay, who also is representing former Kh­mer Rouge leader Ta Mok, has damaged his own reputation by making outlandish claims. And “he tried to damage my reputation,” Tan Senarong said.

So Vat, Siem Reap court’s chief prosecutor, said he has asked the investigating judge and the defense lawyer to cooperate to finish the Knuchel case. “If they are busy with personal issues, the victim’s case won’t be finished,” said So Vat.

Meanwhile, in a press statement released last Wednesday, the Swiss Ambassador to Thai­land Bernard Freymond clarified that Benson Samay was not hired by the Swiss government.

According to the statement, lawyer fees are never borne by the Swiss government. The advance fee of $2,500 was paid by Pierre Jungo as a private citizen and not as honorary consul of Switz­erland in Phnom Penh, the statement said.

(Additional reporting by Kay Kimsong)



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