Tycoon’s Ex-Partner Denied Bail Over Rape-Murder Plot

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday denied bail to the former common-law wife of one of Cambodia’s richest men, who was extradited from Thailand on Tuesday over her alleged involvement in a plot to rape and murder Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol’s wife and daughter.

Lay Huong, 49, was listed by Interpol as having been convicted in October 2012 of “initiative in a rape and premeditated murder attempt” over the apparent conspiracy to rape and murder Mr. Chanthol’s loved ones, but the municipal court Thursday treated her case as still open.

Lay Huong leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday after being denied bail. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Lay Huong leaves the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday after being denied bail. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Presiding Judge Chea Sok Heang said that Ms. Huong, who was arrested in Thailand in December, could not be bailed due to the seriousness of the charges and because she posed a flight risk.

“The court understands that according to the criminal charges and the situation of the defendant, the court should not allow the defendant bail because the court is concerned the defendant will escape again,” the judge said.

“The court decides to temporarily detain the defendant, Lay Huong,” Judge Sok Heang told the courtroom.

Ms. Huong said during her hearing that she had been unaware that she faced criminal charges until she was remanded into the custody of Cambodian authorities on Tuesday. She said Thai police had led her to believe she was being detained there over visa issues.

“I did not have an intention to escape from Cambodia, but only to go meditate in Thailand, because I was bored after my husband divorced me, and His Excellency Sun Chanthol had filed a complaint against me,” she told the court.

Ms. Huong is the ex-partner of Khaou Phallaboth, a member of the Khaou family business empire, which Mr. Chanthol entered through his marriage to Sun Sotha, the daughter of its octogenarian patriarch, Khaou Chuly.

Ms. Huong was sent to Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison for detention Thursday. Leaving the court, she told reporters she hoped Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife would intervene in what she said was a family business dispute.

“I never knew Sun Sotha,” Ms. Huong said. “This is a property dispute between [the Khaou family], but they have accused me and they want to hurt me.”

“The court decided to detain me because of His Excellency Sun Chanthol’s power, and it is not only Sun Chanthol but also includes Oknha Khaou Phallaboth, Sun Chanthol’s wife, and their sister, Khaou Chulasady,” she said.

“I appeal to Samdech Hun Sen and [Bun Rany] because I am an innocent person,” Ms. Huong said, adding that she would appeal the rejection of her bail application.

Mr. Chanthol could not be reached, but has previously said that he is not seeking access to the Khaou family riches.

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