As Police Stay Mum on Investigation, Tycoon Blames Wife, Financial Issues for Assault

3 min read
Screenshots from security footage posted by Duong Chhay’s ex-wife Deth Malina on her Facebook page.

Local businessman Duong Chhay, who was seen beating his wife in CCTV footage released earlier this year, blamed his behavior on financial pressures and his ex-wife’s refusal to let him meet their children, as police officials would not comment on the status of the assault investigation.

Camera footage from the divorced couple’s home from December 2020 was posted by Deth Malina, Chhay’s ex-wife, in March and showed a heated argument that resulted in Chhay lunging for his wife and later dragging her away with his arm around her neck.

At the time, Chhay responded to the video by admitting he had been violent with his wife in the past and that they had decided to get a divorce, but also accused her of not taking care of their children. 

Malina, a social media entrepreneur, filed a court complaint with police in March, but police said they couldn’t question Chhay at the time because he had entered the monkhood.

Chhay, who works in real estate and is the son of businessman Duong Ngieb, released another video on Facebook on Sunday blaming his wife for the attack last year. The businessman appears in civilian clothing and not the saffron robes he adorned shortly after Malina filed the complaint in March. 

Duong Chhay after he entered the monkhood in March, and Chhay speaking on a live Facebook video on September 5, 2021, from media posted to his Facebook page.

“How am I being cruel to my ex-wife? I bought her flowers,” he says in the video. “If you knew I was drunk, why did you let me in the house?”

He then blamed other family issues and financial strains for his behavior. 

“My father left home, I owed the bank, I had to pay interest,” he says in the Facebook video. “I borrow money from the bank for the business and I have to cover the loan alone.”

He continued to complain about his wife limiting time with his children. The couple divorced in January 2021.

Chhay did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday and Thursday, which were sent to the Facebook account he used to post the videos.

Despite a court complaint filed in March, police and court officials did not want to comment on the status of the investigation.

Chhay Kim Khoeun, spokesperson for the National Police, said he was unaware of the case status because it was with the courts. Justice Ministry secretary of state Kim Santepheap also said the case was with the court so he could not comment.

Plang Sophal, a spokesperson for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said the case was confidential and those who were not authorized were not allowed to know the investigation’s status.

Phnom Penh police commissioner Sar Thet could not be reached on Wednesday, but told CamboJA in March that Chhay could not be questioned because the businessman had entered the monkhood. 

VOD reached a staffer working for Malina who would not give the entrepreneur’s direct contact.

Malina posted a video on August 30 detailing a meeting she had with Chhay and their children at a restaurant, where he again turned abusive, she alleged.

“I need to demand justice for my children and myself,” she said in the video.

“I ask the law to help us find justice, because I live in fear and shock, especially my children who may have mental health problems due to the bad deeds, shouting, threats and violence by their father.”

Eng Chandy, who heads Gender and Development for Cambodia, said law enforcement must investigate these cases and find justice for people affected by domestic violence.

“If Duong Chhay continues to commit such acts of violence or the violence he committed before becoming a monk should be punished according to the law,” Chandy said. “Because we have the law and if we do not punish [perpetrators], more and more people will get away.”

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