The wife of a former Khmer Rouge soldier convicted last year in the 1996 kidnap and murder of a British deminer and his Cambodian interpreter said Thursday she is suing two men who she claims took $81,000 from her after falsely promising to secure her husband’s release from jail.
Khim Ngon, who was promoted to RCAF Brigadier General in 1998 after defecting to the government, was sentenced in October to 20 years in jail for his role in the deaths of Christopher Howes and Houn Hourth.
The convict’s wife, Oum Tha, said she had made four payments to Heang Rithy, director of the local organization Cambodia National Research Organization, and Srey Sam Oeun, who is also related to Heang Rithy by marriage and claims to be a cousin of Cabinet Minister Sok An.
“I borrowed this cash from my friends or the bank because I wanted my husband to be released together with our children at home and I did not know when they received my money that my husband was still in prison and [that] they had cheated me,” Oum Tha. She referred further questions about the case to her lawyer, Ouch Sophal.
Both men denied taking the $81,000 in return for gaining the freedom of Khim Ngon.
“My uncle asked me to help her, and I refused because she didn’t have enough documents involved in the case,” Heang Rithy said.
“$81,000 is too much money. How could we take this cash without a receipt?” he asked.
Srey Sam Oeun also denied receiving any money.
“She knew me because I used to work with her husband before he was arrested and she knew me as a relative of Deputy Prime Minister Sok An,” Srey Sam Oeun said.
“I did not receive her money when she came to my house,” he added.
Ouch Sophal said Thursday that the lawsuit had been filed in February. Asked whether his client was suing for the return of money intended for use in bribing court officials, he said it was unclear where the money was meant to end up.
“In this case, I don’t know where the money is going to. My client said they cheated her,” he said.
Council of Ministers spokesman and Secretary of State Phay Siphan said he was unfamiliar with the matter and could not confirm whether Srey Sam Oeun is in fact related to Sok An.