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Anti-drug head questioned

The secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs was detained for questioning by national police on Tuesday, on the same day that anticorruption officials announced they were preparing to prosecute the former police chief of Banteay Meanchey province in a drug-related case.

Moek Dara, the secretary general of the NACD and director of the anti-drug crime department at the Ministry of Interior, was “summoned for interrogation” and “detained under supervision” along with an unnamed anti-drug police officer from Siem Reap province, Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said.

“We didn’t arrest him, but we summoned him for interrogation on suspicion of a crime in cooperation with the Anticorruption Unit and according to police procedure,” Khieu Sopheak said.

“As spokesman, I cannot reveal the exact crime,” he added, saying the investigation was ongoing.

Moek Dara and the Siem Reap officer were still being held by national police as of late on Tuesday, Khieu Sopheak said.

Police and anti-drug officials were reluctant to comment on the case when contacted on Tuesday.

“I am sorry, but I cannot make any conclusions or evaluate his work because I am below him. Only top-level officials can make such conclusions,” said Meas Virith, deputy secretary general of the NACD.

Neak Yuthea, director of the department of legislation, education and rehabilitation at the NACD, also declined to comment on the case.

“I am terribly sorry, but I cannot talk about his interrogation because it is beyond my capacity,” he said.

Deputy national police chief Sok Phal said he was unaware of the case, while national police spokesman Kirt Chantharith could not be reached for comment.

However, Khieu Sopheak told the German press agency DPA that Moek Dara had been linked to the drug investigation against Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Hun Hean and his deputy, Chheang Sun.

ACU deputy president Sieng Borath said on Tuesday that the unit was preparing a case against the pair.

“We will send them to face legal charges at the court within 48 hours,” Sieng Borath said.

“For now, we must do some additional investigating to seek other evidence, something our unit has been working on continuously.”

Hun Hean was removed from his post last week by order of Interior Minister Sar Kheng.

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Governor Ung Oeun said earlier this week that the former police chief had been under investigation for several months in relation to “several different drug crimes”.

Sieng Borath declined to specify what charges Hun Hean might face.

“We have researched a number of documents and it is involved with corruption in his work,” Sieng Borath said. “This is the important issue and this is why we are sending him to court. For other issues, we are still collecting evidence.”

Hun Hean – no relation to Prime Minister Hun Sen – has denied the allegations against him, suggesting they may have been engineered by a rival in the government.

NACD chairman Ke Kim Yan came to his position in 2009 after being removed from his post as commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces amid allegations that he had been “using his military position to profit from land deals”, according to a leaked document from the Council of Ministers.

Some observers speculated at the time, however, that Ke Kim Yan’s removal was an effort by Hun Sen to weaken the government faction loyal to Senate President Chea Sim.
On Monday, ACU head Om Yentieng said in a speech to Ministry of Culture officials that three or four unnamed anti-drug police officers would be arrested in the following days for allegedly releasing detainees in exchange for bribes.

“We will arrest them so that they can be prosecuted in connection with arresting drug smugglers and then releasing them in return for taking bribes of between 20,000 and 160,000,” Om Yentieng said, neglecting to specify the currency of the alleged bribes.

Provincial official probed
Another Banteay Meanchey official, Provincial Prison Director Nuon Vanna, was also under investigation for corruption and was being held in pre-trial detention in Siem Reap province, investigating judge Im Vannak said yesterday.

The former warden is alleged to have accepted a US$40,000 bribe in exchange for releasing a Cambodian-American prisoner.

“We cannot say how long the investigation will take in this bribery case, but when it is completed, we will forward it to a trial judge to schedule a hearing,” Im Vannak said.

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