Suspects In Alleged Murder Plot of Minister’s Wife, Daughter Now Claim Innocence

The lawyer representing four suspects charged with allegedly planning to rape and murder the wife and daughter of a senior government official said yesterday that his clients had recanted their previous admissions and told an investigating judge that they were innocent.

On Wednesday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged two men and two women–Chan Sokha, 37, Neang Sinat, 25, Sok Lak, 30, and Yean Sothearith, 25–for allegedly planning to kill the wife and daughter of Sun Chanthol, vice chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia.

A police report into the June 13 incident stated that Ms Sokha, one of the suspects, told police that she was ordered to organize the crime by the second wife of a wealthy Cambodian businessman.

Yesterday, however, the four suspects’ lawyer, Dun Vibol, said that all his clients had changed their evidence–previously given to police and a prosecutor–to reflect their innocence.

“My clients told the judge that they did not commit this case,” Mr Vibol said, before declining to comment further about their evidence.

After hearing their evidence yesterday, Investigating Judge Te Sam Ang said that he had not decided whether the suspects would be placed in provisional detention.

“I will decide to detain them or not on Friday morning,” Mr Sam Ang said, adding that the suspects would remain in police custody until then.

Last night, however, Mr Vibol confirmed that his clients had already been placed in detention.

The police report into the incident alleged that Ms Sokha arranged for Mr Chanthol’s maid, Ms Sinat, to help gain access to Mr Chanthol’s house in the capital’s Sen Sok district and for Mr Lak and Mr Sothearith to carry out the killings.

The police report further alleged that in the early hours of June 13, Ms Sinat, opened a window and the front door of the minister’s house and fed sleeping pills to Mr Chanthol’s family dog before motioning for the two men to enter the property.

Ms Sotha woke up and shut the door and window before the men fled, without entering the house, the report said.

Ms Sinat, speaking by telephone from the court yesterday, said that she was innocent. “I did not do this case,” she said.

Lim Vanna, the Chanthol family lawyer, declined to comment on the charges yesterday, saying that he was busy with another case.

Neither Mr Chanthol nor his wife could be reached yesterday for comment.


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