Rights worker questioned over use of Kem Ley funds

Source: Khmer Times

Rights activist Moeun Tola yesterday denied mishandling funds for a stupa and funeral ceremonies for slain political analyst Kem Ley. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Human rights worker Moeun Tola yesterday appeared at Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning on breach of trust allegations over his handling of funds for a stupa and funeral ceremonies for slain political analyst Kem Ley.

In September, the leader of the Cambodian Youth Party Pich Sros filed a complaint against Mr Tola, as well as Venerable But Buntenh and Pa Ngoun Teang, over their handling of funds raised for the funeral and a stupa during one-year anniversary ceremonies for Mr Ley.

After he was questioned for almost two hours, Mr Tola told reporters he denied any wrong doing while he was part of the funeral committee for Mr Ley.

“The committee did not hold the donated money, it was given to the family who managed it,” Mr Tola said. “I came to the court when summoned because I did nothing wrong.”

KT/Chor Sokunthea

Mr Ley’s family said at the time of the complaint being filed that they did not support the court action.

Mr Tola added he asked the prosecutor not to move forward with the case.

“I requested the court not to process the case,” Mr Tola said.

Ly Sophana, spokesman of the municipal court, said the prosecutor will continue to follow procedures.

Soeung Senkarona, a senior investigator for rights group Adhoc, said the case should be dropped.

“I hope that after this questioning, the court will not take action on this case,” said Mr Senkarona. “I think that Pich Sros is just seeking attention for his new party by filing this complaint.”

Mr Nguon Teang was also due to appear in court yesterday, but requested a delay in proceedings. Venerable Buntenh is on a mission outside the country.

Mr Sros said only the court can decide whether Mr Tola committed any wrong doing.

“We cannot take Mr Tola’s word as the truth, so we want the court to investigate this issue,” said Mr Sros. “I did not sue the three people summoned looking for any kind of compensation, we just want the truth and to protect Kem Ley’s reputation.”

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