Thong Sarath, Parents Contest Weapons Charges in Court

Thong Sarath, a Defense Ministry official accused of orchestrating the assassination of a Phnom Penh businessman last year, again denied possessing illegal weapons during a hearing at the Court of Appeal on Thursday.

In June, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Major General Sarath to 30 months in prison after finding him guilty of the charge, while his parents, Keo Sary and Thong Chamroeun, were handed two-year prison sentences for the same offense.

Thong Sarath leaves the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily(
Thong Sarath leaves the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily(

Maj. Gen. Sarath is also awaiting trial on charges of premeditated murder over the death of Ung Meng Chue, chairman of the Shimmex Group, who police say was gunned down in November last year by the general’s bodyguards, five of whom are also being detained for their involvement in the murder.

“The reason I am appealing is because the decision by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court was an injustice to me,” Maj. Gen. Sarath told the court. “I did not commit the crime as charged by the municipal court.”

Asked whether he was the owner of a K-59 pistol and a revolver seized by police during a raid on his parent’s house last December, he said he “did not know.”

“Since I became a general, I stopped holding a gun,” he added.

While the general continued to protest his innocence, his parents, who were also appealing their convictions on Thursday, struck a more conciliatory tone.

Addressing the courtroom, Ms. Sary admitted that she and her husband owned two of the 11 firearms seized in raids on two of their houses last year.

“I had one Beretta and my husband had one. Two pistols belonged to my bodyguards and Mr. Taing Sok kept two other guns with me,” she said, referring to one of her son’s bodyguards, who has also been charged with illegal weapons possession but has not been arrested.

Ms. Sary added that she did not know about the other five weapons taken by police.

“I confess I was wrong and I ask the court to please reduce my sentence,” she said.

During her trial in May, Ms. Sary claimed that all of the weapons belonged to her son’s bodyguards, who had used her home for storage.

Judge Tithsothy Boraleak said the court would announce its decision on December 24.

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