The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday declined to offer bail to Lay Huong, the former common law wife of tycoon Khaou Phallaboth and the alleged mastermind of a plot to assassinate the wife of Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol.
Huong will be provisionally detained as the court prepares for her retrial on charges of ordering the rape and murder of Sun Sotha in 2010, a plot that was foiled when Huong’s alleged co-conspirators were blocked by a locked window. The 49-year-old was already convicted in absentia of the charges, but was only recently arrested in Thailand by Interpol officers.
Presiding judge Chea Sok Heang said that the decision to deny bail was made because Huong presented a flight risk, and “will create problems for the court if she is not detained”.
However, Chea Chanravy, Huong’s lawyer, disagreed with the decision, saying the court had no evidence against his client.
Huong yesterday promised to appeal the decision, while maintaining her innocence and characterising the charges as both an attempt by her ex-husband and his father, tycoon Khaou Chuly, to exact revenge for her winning Khaou family properties in her divorce from Phallaboth, and an effort by Chanthol to gain control over Khaou family assets.
Phallaboth is also wanted in connection with the alleged attempted murder, and issued a letter from abroad laying the blame at Huong’s feet.
“For this case, I would like to express that I had no relationship with His Excellency Sun Chanthol’s family, and I have never seen or met his wife and his daughter too,” Huong said.
“But His Excellency Sun Chanthol and his family, and Oknha Khaou Chuly and Khaou Phallaboth, have prepared a plot and dropped this accusation on me,” she added.
Chanthol and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.
Huong also maintained that she had not fled to Thailand, but rather travelled there to meditate “because my husband committed adultery and had a new wife”.
“If I had received [a warrant], I would have gone to the court.”