The head of the Anticorruption Unit led police in the apprehension of a Pursat provincial prosecutor and two bodyguards working for him yesterday morning, marking the first arrests made by the recently established body.
Nget Theavy, provincial Adhoc coordinator, said ACU head Om Yentieng, who is also a senior adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, accompanied police to the home of prosecutor Top Chan Sereyvuth, where the arrests were made.
“We don’t know the exact reason yet why he was arrested,” she said, and added that the arrest had come as a surprise to local officials.
“There was no one who knew in advance about arresting the prosecutor until he was arrested at his house on Monday morning,” she said.
She added, however, that the arrests had come as a welcome surprise to “many people in Pursat province” because “they are angry with this prosecutor who used his power to oppress innocent people”.
She said the three men had been “sent immediately to Phnom Penh” after their arrest.
Thong Ol, director of the provincial court, said the Anticorruption Unit had detained Top Chan Sereyvuth and the two bodyguards for questioning. He declined to comment further, saying he did not have any additional information.
Chub Sophany, provincial deputy governor, said she too did not know why Top Chan Sereyvuth had been arrested.
“We were not told about the reason, but Om Yentieng told us that the Anti-corruption Unit had followed Top Chan Sereyvuth’s activities for a long time,” she said.
Keo Remy, a spokesman for the ACU, declined to comment saying he had not been informed of the case.
He referred questions to Om Yentieng, who declined to comment, saying he was busy questioning the three suspects.
Hang Chhaya, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, said the arrest gave “some glint of hope” that the ACU was willing to target corruption in high-ranking officials.
He noted, however, that the arrest had come very soon after the establishment of the ACU and said it would be “interesting to see what happens with this case”.
“It is really fast, so we have to monitor it,” he said. “It should be transparent and we would like to see the accused given due process.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY BROOKE LEWIS