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Copping to bribery

Former Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Hun Hean confessed to collecting more than $100,000 in bribes from drug dealers during the final day of a corruption trial against him and four of his subordinates yesterday.

Detailed accounts of how Hun Hean, two of his deputies and two other former Banteay Meanchey police officials systematically solicited thousands of dollars in bribes every month for years from drug dealers emerged during the two-day trial.

Presiding Judge Im Vanak said Hun Hean alone had received between US$4,000 and  $5000 a month from nine economic checkpoints across the province that his underlings used to collect bribes from drug dealers.

“During their trial, they all confessed about their mistakes and the bribes [they received]. The court will consider their confessions and mistakes,” Im Vanak said, adding that the five men would be sentenced next Tuesday.

Hun Hean’s former deputy, Chheang Sun, was sacked and arrested amid corruption allegations earlier this year, along with then-chief of the Banteay Meanchey provincial criminal police office Hem Sophal and anti-drug police officials Khieu Sara and Morm Doeun.

Phun Chhin, a monitor for the rights group Licadho in Banteay Meanchey province, confirmed yesterday that Hun Hean and Chheang Sun had confessed to crimes that included the release of drug dealers from arrest or prison in return for huge sums of cash and lux-ury vehicles.

“Chheang Sun said he was ordered by Hun Hean to collect the money at economic police checkpoints and get the money from drug traffickers in exchange for their release during police drug crackdowns,” Phun Chhin said.

In one case, the court heard how a Chinese drug dealer connected to the Hollywood Casino in Poipet had been released from prison in 2010 in return for at least $100,000.

Another suspect had been  freed from jail in 2009 in return for a $56,000 bribe, Phun Chhin said.

On the first day of the trial, the court heard how the group had allowed another two suspects to go free in return for two luxury vehicles, he said.

Chheang Sun admitted to receiving a spate of bribes ranging from $2,500 to $17,000,  large sums of which were passed on to Hun Hean, Phun Chhin said.

Hun Hean and Chheang Sun’s lawyers could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The pair were arrested in January and reportedly implicated the country’s highest anti-drug official, former secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs Moek Dara.

Moek Dara is scheduled to face court, along with former chief of the anti-drug office at the Ministry of Interior, Chea Leng, on November 17.

Two other former senior Banteay Meanchey anti-drug police, By Nasy and Lim Mab, along with the former head of the provincial prison, Nuon Vanna, have also been arrested in connection with drugs and corruption.

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