A nephew of Prime Minister Hun Sen was released by Phnom Penh Municipal Court late Monday evening, four days after his arrest for allegedly shooting up a karaoke room in a Phnom Penh nightclub.
Hun Chea, 24, was released following a guarantee by his parents that he will stay out of trouble and not flee the country, Investigating Judge Kong Seth said Wednesday. The suspect’s father is one of Hun Sen’s older brothers, Hun San, who worked for years at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
Charges of shooting an illegal weapon still stand against Hun Chea, but there was no need to keep him in jail, said Kong Seth.
“He was released because his parents, lawyer and [Hun Chea] guaranteed he would not escape [from the country]….The court did not do him a favor. All people have the right to ask for temporary release during an investigation,” said Kong Seth.
Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara, who had sanctioned the arrest of Hun Chea, said Wednesday he had no opinion regarding the release.
Six others arrested with Hun Chea were also released Monday on the same condition. Kong Seth said a preliminary investigation indicates the six were not involved in the shooting.
Hun Chea’s arrest was the second in less than a year involving a nephew of Hun Sen. Nhim Pisey—the son of one of Hun Sen’s sisters and Nhim Chantara, now ambassador to Burma—was arrested for firing a weapon and injuring two people outside a Phnom Penh nightclub in July. Nhim Pisey was detained in prison for less than a month before being released on the same condition as Hun Chea.
Even though the six-month deadline for a trial has passed, Nhim Pisey’s case will be handed to the court director in the next few days to decide a trial date, Municipal Court Clerk Sovann Makara said Wednesday.