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Court corruption: ACU arrests provincial court clerk

Court corruption: ACU arrests provincial court clerk

A Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court clerk is in custody after members of the Anti-Corruption Unit arrested him on Tuesday for allegedly accepting bribes.

The ACU arrested Soung Song Heng, 20, and sent him to Phnom Penh for further questioning, said Ith Samphors, vice-president of the Banteay Meanchey court.

“[Song Heng] was arrested by the ACU yesterday morning in Banteay Meanchey province; I do not yet know what the accusation is,” Samphors said yesterday. “I have not seen him return to his office.”

A Banteay Meanchey military police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity yesterday said that Song Heng, personal clerk and friend of prosecutor Phan Vanroath, was arrested after alleged victims complained to the ACU.

“He has been receiving bribes from suspects who pay him to interfere with their cases and reduce their sentences,” the military police officer said. “He was arrested for [allegedly] receiving bribes.”

Although the ACU took action against an allegedly corrupt employee in the court system, Chan Soveth, head of human resources and legal aid for rights group Adhoc, said Song Heng’s arrest will likely have little impact on efforts to reduce corruption.

“Corruption in Cambodia is not individual corruption; corruption in this country is systemic,” Saveth said. “To reduce corruption, especially in the court system, I think that the leader of this new government should have the strong willingness, commitment and a clear mechanism for combating it.”

ACU president Om Yentieng, ACU spokesman Keo Remy, Banteay Meanchey prosecutor Phan Vanroath and Song Heng could not be reached yesterday.

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