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‘Careless’ Phnom Penh cops let drug suspect walk free

Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo authorities yesterday were still searching for a 20-year-old drug user who escaped from the district police station on Tuesday morning by pretending to be a visitor who was throwing away some rubbish.

Iv Chhunpheng, deputy Russey Keo district police chief, said his authorities were searching for the suspect, who had been arrested on Monday as part of the nationwide anti-drug campaign.

“According to our authorities . . . he pretended to act like the visitors who brought in food when the authorities were not paying attention to him, and while I was having a meeting at about 9 or 10am,” he said, adding that the man then pretended to be taking out the discarded food packaging.

Chhunpheng hung up on a reporter without providing the man’s name, but said he had been arrested along with more than 30 others. He added that “a lot” of drugs had been confiscated, and all other suspects would be sent to court today.

Authorities who neglected to supervise the escapee will be disciplined according to police regulations, he said. Chhunpheng denied a local media report that said the suspect had escaped after he had been ordered to clean up the rubbish around the police station.

Meanwhile, Teang Chansar, Russey Keo district police chief, said authorities had been “careless when they used the key to lock the detention room”, whose door didn’t latch, allowing the suspect to walk out.

As authorities push forward with their controversial drug crackdown, the Ministry of Labour on Tuesday released guidelines informing all employers, employees and unions in the Kingdom that they must take also part in the nationwide effort.

According to the guidelines, in the event that businesses discover employees using drugs, the employer must have a discussion with the worker to help them get treatment. It’s unclear whether businesses would be required to drug test employees, though.

The guidelines also say that if illegal distribution of drugs is found within an enterprise, it must be reported to authorities immediately.

The ministry’s drug coordination committee will monitor compliance with the guidelines, though Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached yesterday to explain what, if any, enforcement measures would be taken for non-compliance.

Additional reporting by Phon Dyna

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