A Change of Guard

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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

It’s My Voice, Chandaraty Admits

Khmer Times/Taing Vida Tuesday, 19 April 2016 

Khom Chandaraty leaving the court yesterday after her hearing. KT/Mai Vireak

Khom Chandaraty, the woman rumored to be the mistress of Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) acting president Kem Sokha, has admitted that the female voice in a leaked audio recording tying her to an affair with Mr. Sokha is in fact hers, according to Phnom Penh deputy prosecutor Sieng Sok, who questioned Ms. Chandaraty in court yesterday.

He added that the court is considering further action in the case.

Ms. Chandaraty was questioned for four hours yesterday and was concerned about a police report accusing the alleged mistress of giving false testimony during previous police questioning, and being accused of working as a prostitute.

Mr. Sok told Khmer Times that Ms. Chandaraty acknowledged it was her voice in the leaked phone conversation and also responded to many other questions related to the accusations against her.

When asked whether the court will summon Mr. Sokha to comment on the audio recording, Mr. Sok said the court will consider the matter.

“For now, after the interrogation, I have decided to let the suspect return home since she has admitted the truth about her voice on the recordings. So the court will examine this. To question Mr. Sokha or not, we will examine,” the prosecutor said.

Outside the court yesterday, Ms. Chandaraty declined to comment in detail.

“I have nothing to say. I only told the truth and look for justice. I do not know anything. It’s hard to speak out. I feel so difficult talking about this,” Ms. Chandaraty said.

Her lawyer, rights group Adhoc’s Try Chhoun, said no charges were laid against her client after the questioning and that the inquiries were solely focused on the leaked audio recording and her client’s personal communications, and were not about the accusations of false testimony or prostitution.

“My client did not have any evidence to present. I think she has done no wrong and committed no crime. I could not give detail about the questioning because the case will be going through the investigative process…and I strongly believe my client is a victim,” Ms. Chhoun said.

CNRP spokesmen Yem Ponhearith and Yim Sovann could not be reached yesterday and Mr. Sokha has remained silent about the accusations against him, claiming his party would only focus on the up-coming elections and not be mired in other issues

Thida Khus, the executive director of non-profit organization Silaka who observed the court proceedings yesterday morning, urged Mr. Sokha as well as other politicians involved in this case to publicly comment or respond to it rather than leave Ms. Chandaraty as the lone subject of prosecution and politics.

“He [Mr. Sokha] must not remain quiet. He should come out and say something. Whether it’s true or not, it’s his personal matter,” Ms. Khus said.

“I do not point to another one, but currently Cambodian politicians are using women as tools for political interest. They all should stop doing this,” she added, while also condemning the initial privacy violation that took place when the audio recordings were leaked.

In mid-March, Prime Minister Hun Sen claimed he had photos of a famous politician who went to a hotel in Bangkok with his lover. Though he did not mentioned a name, political analysts and the public believed the premier was referring to Mr. Sokha.

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