Former anti-drug czar Moek Dara (C) exits the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh in November 2012. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post
Documents that resurfaced during the appeal process this week for disgraced anti-drug czar Moek Dara are doing more than delaying the verdict in his appeal.
They have piqued the interest of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), which is responsible for rooting out official graft and the abuse of power.
Officials with the ACU yesterday questioned Dara’s defence lawyer, Ray Bunthoeun, and Ith Samphors, vice-deputy president of the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court.
Om Yentieng, head of the ACU, said the two were summoned to offer an explanation for the missing papers after Samphors found the documents in his office on December 30.
“To handle this, the General Prosecutor of the Court of Appeal has recently issued a warrant to the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court for investigation and the court has found it and sent it the ACU,” he told the Post yesterday.
Whether the lost-then-found papers will have an impact on the expected January 31 decision in the appeal case is unclear.
But according to the defence lawyer, the papers contain key evidence.
Bunthoeun told the Post that according to the five documents, a drug criminal who was also a witness in the case said that she had never even met Dara or bought drugs from him.
In January 2012, Dara and anti-drug officer Chea Leng were sentenced to life in prison by the provincial court in Banteay Meanchey on dozens of counts of bribery and corruption. A third defendant, Morn Doeun, went into hiding and was sentenced to 25 years in absentia.
When contacted yesterday, Bunthoeun said that during his questioning by the ACU, he felt like he was on trial.
“They asked me about my relation with the president of Banteay Meanchey Court as well as Banteay Meanchey Court’s General Prosecutor and other judges,” he said.
“As I noted, the ACU officials have treated me like an accused person. They tried to ask me in finding my mistakes.
''They asked me whether I have bribed the prosecutors or judges in disappearing the documents,” he stated.
Samphors, the second person questioned by the ACU yesterday, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]