Thong Sarath’s Wife: No Feud With Slain Tycoon

The wife of disgraced former military general Thong Sarath testified on Friday that her husband had no business conflict with construction tycoon Ung Meng Chue, who was murdered at a Phnom Penh fruit store in 2014.

Teav Thyda told the Phnom Penh Municipal Court that her hus­band had not left the house on the day of the murder, which prosecutors have said he ordered his bodyguards to commit over an al­leged business dispute.

“I was sick, then I returned home and stayed with my husband,” she said.

Under questioning from Presid­ing Judge Top Chhun Heng, Ms. Thy­da said her husband had two guns, which his bodyguards typical­ly collected during the day and then returned to a safe in the evening.

“Does your husband have a gun license?” Judge Chhun Heng asked.

“I do not know about it,” Ms. Thyda said.

She denied any relationship be­tween her husband and Ung Meng Chue, who was shot six times as he exited his Lexus SUV on No­vem­ber 22, 2014, saying, “It’s been 11 years that I am together with my husband, and he never mentioned any involvement with tycoon Ung Meng Chue and he never knew him in the past.”

The judge asked Ms. Thyda, “How can you prove that tycoon Thorng Sarath had no business conflict with anyone?”

“He has only one company. How could the conflict happen?” she replied. “We normally have a problem with our customers or neighbors.”

According to police, bodyguards Ly Sao and Sieng Veasna drove to the fruit store, where Mr. Veasna shot Ung Meng Chue. Mr. Vea­sna, who was charged with premeditated murder, has insisted he is innocent, while Ly Sao died of encephalitis in June. Three other bodyguards—Koy Chanthul, Meas Sambath and Chhun Chetra—were charged as accomplices after po­lice said they admitted to posing as lookouts.

Mr. Sarath has remained ab­sent from the trial due to health problems.

The trial is to resume on Friday.

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