Court Frees 2 In High-Profile Shooting Case

Municipal Investigating Judge Ham Mengse released two men on Monday held since early Oc­to­ber on charges of attempting to kill former Ministry of Water Re­source and Meteorology sec­re­ta­ry of state Chea Rotha.

The judge annulled the confession of suspect, and former Kom­pong Thom deputy police chief, Hang Sokun, 40, which had led to the arrest of printing house own­er Tang Sopheap.

Police said in October that Hang Sokun had confessed that he offered $8,000 and an apartment in exchange for the killing of the Chea Rotha over a business dispute.

Police also said that Hang Sokun had told them he gave a gunman a K-59 handgun loaded with eight bullets and $450 to buy a motorcycle and gasoline.

The judge on Monday said that Hang Sokun’s confession had been obtained improperly and that there was not sufficient evidence to convict him or Tang Sopheap.

“All the evidence [against the men] is not enough,” Ham Meng­se said.

“I am very happy with Judge Ham Mengse’s decision,” Hang Sokun said after the hearing.

Chea Rotha expressed dismay at the court’s decision.                                     “We have all the evidence, the offenders handed over the gun, tape recordings of the offenders—this evidence was enough to charge them,” she said.

At the three-hour hearing, the defendants’ lawyer, Kar Savuth, asked the judge to fine Chea Rotha $1 million for defaming his clients with the accusations

Chea Rotha said she will file a complaint to the Appeals Court within 24 hours and will also ask the government to investigate Ham Mengse.

In October, a Kandal provincial court clerk confessed to trying to extort $2,000 from Chea Rotha after apparently inventing a bri­be­ry case against her and offering to in­validate a warrant issued for her.

Earlier this month, Funcinpec an­nounced Chea Rotha’s resignation as secretary of state of the Min­istry of Water Resources and Meteorology over “personal business.”

She was replaced by fellow royalist Tann Sithan.


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