Cambodian Government Unit Questions Rights Group About Politician’s Sex Scandal

The Cambodian government's Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) on Wednesday questioned four officials from a domestic human rights group after a woman who claims to be the mistress of deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha accused them of convincing her to lie about her alleged affair, the organization's president said.

Thun Saray, president of rights group Adhoc, which is providing legal services to alleged mistress Khem Chandaraty, told RFA's Khmer Service that the ACU allowed one member of the group, attorney Try Chhoun, to return home the same day.

At about 10 p.m. Cambodian time, ACU chairman Om Yentiang told Thun Saray that he could take the other three officials home, but that they had to return for questioning on Thursday.

"He told me that he would allow them to leave tonight and asked that they come back tomorrow," he said, but declined to provide further details.

However, two RFA reporters who stood watch outside the ACU's offices did not see the Adhoc officials leave.

Try Chhoun declined to provide information about the questioning, saying only that she told the ACU she has complied with her professional responsibility to provide legal advice to her client.

She was originally a lawyer for Khem Chandarathy, a 25-year-old hairdresser also known as Srey Mom, who has accused Adhoc officials of urging her to lie to police about the alleged affair with Kem Sokha of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

Support from NGOs

Earlier this month prosecutors told local media that Khem Chandaraty admitted that it was her voice on leaked audio recordings of conversations between herself and Kem Sokha. The recordings were posted on her Facebook page, which she said was hacked.

Although she previously denied that the voices belonged to her and Kem Sokha, she recanted her story last week under questioning by police on charges of prostitution and false testimony.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Thun Saray played excerpts from recordings of Adhoc's interviews with Khem Chandarathy in March in which she provided details of her story and denied having an affair with the politician, according to a report in The Cambodia Daily.

Nine nongovernmental organizations issued a statement on Wednesday expressing their support for the Adhoc officials.

"We are sad about the Anti-Corruption Unit's decision to summon rights officials, which impedes their human rights work," the statement said. "The Anti-Corruption Unit's measure affects the NGOs' work to protect human rights and women's rights."

The organizations urged Prime Minister Hun Sen's government and the ACU to respect the work of the NGOs.

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