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Bribe money not in account

Former anti-drug czar Moek Dara (centre) is escorted by police at Banteay Meanchey provincial court last month.

The trial against former anti-drug czar Moek Dara wrapped up on Friday with the revelation that an audit of his bank account showed he had just a fraction of the amount of the millions of dollars he is accused of eliciting in bribes from drug dealers.

The former head of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, who is facing 32 drug-related corruption charges in a trial with two of his underlings, reportedly welcomed the revelation that his bank account contained only $US80,000.

“Moek Dara told the judge that he was happy with the revelation of his property because it is a justice after he was alleged of having millions of money after the arrest,” Nop Virak, a monitor for the rights group Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said late last week.

When asked about allegations he ordered co-defendant Morn Doeun to allow a drug dealer to escape who was found with 667 tablets of yama, a highly addictive form of methamphetamine, Moek Dara claimed he did not remember, Nop Virak said.

Banteay Meanchey Provincial court prosecutor Phann Vanarath refuted a newspaper report claiming Moek Dara’s money and several properties he owned had been seized by authorities, explaining this would only be done if and when he is found guilty.

“According to the amendment made to article 53 of the 2005 law on drugs, property will be confiscated if it is a benefit of crime,” he said.

Kea Eav, defence lawyer for Morn Doeun, who has escaped but was already sentenced to three years’ jail during an earlier, related trial, denied the court could seize his client’s property because a different law applied to his case.

“Before Moek Dara was arrested, the law on corruption [criminal transactions and drugs] had still been in practice, thus [the law on] confiscation cannot be applied and there is only fine in the law on corruption and criminal transaction.”

Charges against former chief of the Anti-Drug Office at the Ministry of Interior, Chea Leng, were heard during the trial, which will end with closing statements from December 19 to 23. Phann Vanarath said a verdict would be announced about a month after the conclusion of the case.



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