Lawyer Hired to Defend Fugitive General in Tycoon Murder Case

Fugitive Defense Ministry official Thong Sarath, who is wanted for allegedly orchestrating the murder of a prominent businessman in Phnom Penh last month and who has so far only attempted to clear his name online, has now retained the services of a lawyer.

The lawyer, Kea Eav, said Sunday that he will also be representing four of Major General Sarath’s bodyguards, who have been placed in provisional detention on charges of carrying out the murder of Shimmex chairman Ung Meng Chue, who was shot six times outside a fruit store on November 22.

In a video posted to YouTube on Friday, Maj. Gen. Sarath, who was placed on Interpol’s list of most-wanted criminals last week, proclaimed his innocence and asked Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene on his behalf.

On Sunday, Mr. Eav said Maj. Gen. Sarath’s mother, who is jailed along with her husband on charges of illegal weapons possession following their arrest during the raids on a number of the general’s villas on December 3, asked him to defend her son.

“On December 18, his mother asked me to defend him,” he said. “I went to prison to meet her. I applied to defend him at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on December 19.”

Mr. Eav added that he has also taken over defense of the four bodyguards following the dismissal of their original lawyer, Chong Eav Heng—who on the day the guards were charged said there was nothing he could do to help them, as they had already confessed to police.

“There was a confession from one or two bodyguards, but according to law, it should match the evidence,” Mr. Eav said Sunday. “Currently, there is no evidence [against them].”

Mr. Eav said he had not spoken to Maj. Gen. Sarath and had no information about his whereabouts.

Mr. Eav Heng, the bodyguards’ former lawyer, said he was let go because the four men simply didn’t get along with him.

“The four suspects asked that I be dismissed because they do not like me,“ he said.

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