No Bail for Commune Chief Charged in Sokha Case

The Court of Appeal on Thursday upheld the bail denial for a commune chief accused of bribing the alleged mistress of CNRP vice president Kem Sokha to deny an affair with the lawmaker.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court had previously denied bail for Seang Chet, the chief of a commune in Kompong Cham province.

Opposition commune chief Seang Chet is escorted into the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Opposition commune chief Seang Chet is escorted into the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“The Appeal Court’s Chamber of Investigation decided to keep him in detention,” Mr. Chet’s lawyer, Hem Socheat, said on Thursday.

Mr. Socheat said he had lobbied the court for his client’s release, citing Mr. Chet’s deteriorating health and his family’s lack of financial support, but to no avail.

Mr. Chet was arrested and charged in April after being accused of bribing Mr. Sokha’s alleged mistress, Khom Chandaraty, amid ongoing high-profile investigations into the pair’s liaison.

Mr. Chet claims he gave the money to Ms. Chandaraty’s mother—who lived in Mr. Chet’s commune—to support her during the controversy.

Seang Chet, an opposition commune chief from Kompong Cham province, leaves the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh yesterday. Mr. Chet, who stands charged with bribing an alleged mistress of deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha, had his bail request denied by the court. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Seang Chet, an opposition commune chief from Kompong Cham province, leaves the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh yesterday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Presiding Judge Khun Leang Meng confirmed that he had denied Mr. Chet bail, but declined to comment further.

Mr. Chet said he planned to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The bribery charge carries a penalty of five to 10 years in prison.

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