Fugitive General Posts Video Claiming Innocence

Thong Sarath, a defense ministry official who has been on the run since being charged earlier this month with ordering the assassination of a prominent businessman, released a video Friday protesting his innocence and pleading for Prime Minster Hun Sen to help him.

The fugitive general is believed to have fled the country and has been placed on Interpol’s red notice list of most wanted criminals for allegedly orchestrating the murder of Shimmex chairman Ung Meng Chue. 

Four of his bodyguards are being held in provisional detention for carrying out their boss’ orders, with one, Sieng Veasna, accused of repeatedly shooting Ung Meng Chue outside a fruit shop in Phnom Penh on Nov­em­ber 22.

“I and my four bodyguards are suffering an injustice and I appeal to Samdech Prime Minister to intervene for us,” says Major General Sarath in the video, posted to YouTube.

Maj. Gen. Sarath said it was impossible for him to have ordered the hit in revenge in retaliation over soured business deals because he had never done business with the victim.

“I and Oknha Ung Meng Chue never knew each other, we had no business relationship with each other, we have no land near to each other’s that would have caused me to kill him,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Sarath argued that the case against him and his bodyguards was riddled with ir­regularities, such as the fact that two of his bodyguards, Ly Sao, the suspected getaway driver, and Mr. Veasna, the suspected shooter, willingly went to the police station for questioning.

“If one was the driver and the other one was the shooter, do you really think they would go to the police headquarters?”

He claimed that people who were jealous of his business success had fabricated the evidence against him.

“My business has been going very well for a long time—why would I ruin it in one day and to destroy myself forever?” he said. “Attacking me will affect more than just my own customers. Please Samdech, help us.”

Eng Sorphea, chief of the muni­cipal police’s serious crimes bureau, said he had not watched the video, but added that if Maj. Gen. Sarath wanted to prove he was innocent, he should hand himself in.

“But if he did not do it, why did he escape and make us have to try to find him?” he said.

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