Court Denies Bail for Parents of Fugitive General in Murder Case

The Court of Appeal on Tuesday denied bail for the parents of a senior Ministry of Defense official who remains on the run over allegations that he orchestrated the assassination of a wealthy businessman in November.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged Major General Thong Sarath on December 5 with coordinating the November 22 murder of Shimmex chairman Ung Meng Chue, who was shot six times outside a fruit store in Phnom Penh.

Police also arrested the parents of Maj. Gen. Sarath, Thong Chamroeun and his wife Keo Savy, as part of their investigation. The pair was jailed on December 7 over charges of possession of illegal firearms.

Four of the general’s bodyguards, who are currently being held in provisional detention—two on charges of murder and two on charges of being an accomplice to murder—allegedly carried out the murder in exchange for an apartment each.

Presiding Judge Khun Leang Meng confirmed outside the Appeal Court on Tuesday that he had denied bail for the parents, but declined to comment further.

“[We] denied bail,” Judge Leang Meng said.

“I cannot comment because His Excellency does not allow [me] to comment,” he said, declining to say which of his superiors had told him not to talk.

Sy Sathya, the couple’s defense lawyer, said outside the court that he was disappointed by the decision.

“It is an injustice for my clients because of their health,” he said. “Especially Mr. Thorng Chamroeun, he is sick.”

The couple did not comment as they left the court, but Mr. Chamroeun complained of high blood pressure as he entered his hearing.

“I was treated for seven months at a hospital in Vietnam,” he said.

Lim Sokha Raksmey, acting director of Cambodia’s Interpol office, said the whereabouts of Maj. Gen. Sarath, who went into hiding on the day of his parents’ arrest, remain unknown.

“We are looking for him, but we don’t know where he is,” he said. “But he can’t just escape to anywhere because he is on the red notice list.”

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