The president of rights group Adhoc was a no-show at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for questioning in a case in which four of his staff members face bribery charges over a sex scandal involving CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha.
Thun Saray was on an extended mission to Canada and had asked to postpone his appearance while he was overseas, an Adhoc official said.
Court spokesman Ly Sophana confirmed Mr. Saray did not appear to answer questions following a summons, and said the judge would continue to investigate the case. He did not respond to further requests for comment.
Latt Ky, Adhoc’s land and natural resource manager, said the purpose of Mr. Saray’s visit to Canada was “not quite clear,” but Mr. Saray had appointed his secretary-general, In Kea, as acting president.
“I know only that he stays in Canada, but I don’t know more details of what he’s working for…. I have not been in contact with him for a while,” Mr. Ky said, declining to say how long Mr. Saray had been outside the country.
Mr. Kea could not be reached, while several other Adhoc officials declined to comment.
Preap Kol, the executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said communications with Mr. Saray had been disrupted.
“I haven’t been in touch with him for so, so long,” he said. “I don’t know where he is.”
Him Yun, coordinator for the Coalition for Integrity and Social Accountability, an anti-corruption group, said he had not seen Mr. Saray since his colleagues were charged, but believed he had been “living with his children in Canada” since his colleagues’ arrest.
Adhoc’s head of monitoring, Ny Sokha, his deputies Nay Vanda and Yi Soksan, and senior investigator Lim Mony were arrested in April along with National Election Committee deputy secretary-
general Ny Chakrya and accused of paying the opposition lawmaker’s alleged mistress to lie to officials about a supposed affair.
The charges are believed to stem from the $204 the officials gave the alleged mistress, Khem Chandaraty, while representing her after the case went public—and before Ms. Chandaraty admitted the affair to officials and gave information about the five accused.
Adhoc has denied the charges and remained tight-lipped about the case, which is widely seen as a politically motivated assault on government critics.
Mr. Saray’s long absence from the country has negatively affected Adhoc’s ability to address human rights, which have been decaying in recent months—as noted by the U.N., Mr. Yun said.
“While the president is away from the office, it’s not so easy to do all kinds of work,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Khuon Narim)
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