Witness Tells of Plot to Murder Timber Exporter

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday heard the final evidence in the case of a broker accused of conspiring to murder his well-connected timber-exporting boss.

San Dicham, 40, a dual Cambodian-Lao citizen, was arrested in 2011 for defrauding and plotting to murder his former boss, Khai Narin. For reasons unknown, the murder charges were set aside until now and Mr. Dicham was convicted solely of fraud, for which he has been jailed since October 2011.

On Tuesday, the final witness in the murder-plot case, Kong Sovan, told the court that in 2011, Ouch Lyvan, a man who says he was hired to carry out the murder, had revealed the alleged plot to kill Ms. Narin.

“Mr. Lyvan told me that he would get $10,000 from Mr. Dicham [for the murder], so I told police,” Mr. Sovan told the court.

Mr. Sovan’s tipoff led to the arrest of Mr. Dicham and Mr. Lyvan.

Mr. Lyvan was released after questioning and, despite admitting that he had agreed to carry out the murder, has not faced any charges.

“I had promised with Mr. Dicham to kill Ms. Narin when I received the money,” Mr. Lyvan reaffirmed in court Tuesday.

Mr. Dicham fell afoul of Ms. Narin in 2011 when $50,000 went missing in a deal to ship luxury wood to China that Mr. Dicham was solicited to broker.

Mr. Dicham faces life imprisonment if convicted of the murder plot, but maintained his innocence Tuesday.

Ms. Narin’s lawyer, Nguon Makara, demanded $200,000 in compensation for her client.

In 2007, Ms. Narin was named in a report by environmental campaign group Global Witness as the owner of a sawmill found to be processing “illegally-sourced timber” on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

The report, entitled Cambodia’s Family Trees: Illegal Logging and the Stripping of Public Assets by Cambodia’s Elite, also ties Ms. Narin to timber stockpiles in the plundered Prey Long forest, which she was found to own in conjunction with the Seng Keang Company.

The Global Witness report names the Seng Keang Company as the “most powerful logging syndicate in Cambodia.” Seng Keang is the ex-wife of Dy Chouch, a cousin of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

A verdict in the murder-plot case is scheduled to be handed down Monday.

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