A disgraced former police chief who was in a car that injured three people while he was on day release from prison in 2011 has had his sentence for illegal logging reduced.
Yoeung Baloung, once the provincial police chief in Ratanakkiri, was among 555 prisoners whose sentences King Norodom Sihamoni cut or quashed during Khmer New Year in April, the May 31 edition of the Royal Book says.
Baloung’s 13-year-sentence for illegal logging and bribery was reduced by nine months at the request of the Ministry of Justice because he had “worked hard” inside the provincial prison, the publication says.
The ex-police officer’s supposed hard work on the inside, however, has been balanced out by an unusual amount of leisure time on the outside.
In January 2011, Baloung was in a car that injured three people when it crashed into their motorbike.
The inmate had been given permission to leave prison for a wedding. Authorities denied he was behind the wheel, but family members of the victims claimed Baloung was alone in the vehicle.
Following the crash, the Interior Ministry accused prison officials of illegally releasing Baloung, but that wasn’t enough to prevent him being granted leave from prison again in April 2013 to attend his son’s wedding and family Khmer New Year celebrations.
Baloung was arrested on June 29, 2006, accused of taking bribes, logging and filing fake police reports.
Tin Sovanny, the boss of the provincial prison, said yesterday that Baloung’s sentence had been cut only because he had served two-thirds of his term.
“If he had not served two-thirds of his sentence, no one would have dared to request the sentence reduction,” he said.
Baloung, however, has not served two-thirds of his sentence. He has served less than eight years of a 13-year term.
Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator at rights group Adhoc, said Baloung was not only allowed to leave the prison, he had also built his own house on prison grounds.
“That is most unjust to inmates who live in confined areas and don’t enjoy the same freedom,” he said.