Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Ex-governor jailed for 13 years for killing mistress

Lay-Vannak
Former Takeo provincial governor Lay Vannak. Panha Chhorpoan

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday sentenced former Takeo provincial governor Lay Vannak to 13 years in jail for the murder of his mistress last year and covering it up as a suicide.

Presiding Judge Ham Mengse announced the 13-year jail sentence against Lay Vannak, the former governor, as well as 10 years for Lay Narith, Vannak’s brother and a former provincial deputy police chief.

Vannak, Narith and other suspects were arrested in April last year.

Men Samay, Vannak’s driver; and Choeum Vuth, the husband of the victim’s maid were both found guilty of concealing evidence and sentenced to two years in jail, Mengse added.

“The court provides the right to the defendants to make an appeal based on the law if they are not satisfied with this verdict,” he said.

The body of Chev Sovathana, a National Assembly official and member of the CPP’s youth wing, was found hanging in her rental home in Daun Keo city on January 26 last year.

Police initially closed the case as a suicide, but spurred by complaints from the family to Interior Ministry officials after her funeral, reopened it and charged the suspects with murder.

During his trial in January, Vannak denied that he had killed Sovathana.

“I swear on everything that is sacred in this world to please hear and know that if I killed Sovathana, please take my life, my wife’s life and the lives of my three children,” Vannak said.

Rous Phalla, Vannak’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Tep Panha, Narith’s lawyer, said that he did nothing to comment at this stage, but he would discuss a potential appeal with his client.

“It is his right,” Panha said.

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