The former chief of Phnom Penh’s municipal anti-drug police denied charges of accepting bribes and stockpiling large quantities of drugs yesterday, during the first day of his trial in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Lieutenant-Colonel Touch Muy Ter, 43, was arrested and charged in October, 2009 with bribery and possession of illegal drugs, after a complaint was filed by the National Authority for Combating Drugs.
Lam Sokha, a 53-year-old businesswoman, was accused of offering a bribe to police after her arrest in Phnom Penh in 2005, presiding judge Suos Sam Ath said.
She was re-arrested in February following the allegations.
“Touch Muy Ter arrested four drug traffickers and confiscated a total of four packages of drugs equalling 8,000 tablets of yama during a drug trafficking crackdown in 2005. But he released [the suspects] without sending them to the court for prosecution. He had received bribes from them,” Suos Sam Ath said in court yesterday.
“He kept the drugs and other confiscated materials at his office without informing or reporting it to his superiors since 2005 until 2009 … when he was arrested.” The former police official is also accused of releasing numerous other drug trafficking suspects in exchange for cash bribes up until his arrest in 2009, but denied all charges against him yesterday.
“I did not receive any bribes from the four suspected people . . . I decided to release them because there were interventions from my superiors – Phnom Penh Municipal Police deputy chief Reach Sokhon, the General Commissariat of National Police and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor,” he said.
“I respected their orders and I released them. I did not do it by myself.”
He claims that his dedication to his job had threatened other police officials – who then accused him of the crime.
“The reason why I continued to keep the drugs at my own office was because I had done so on the command of the deputy chief of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police,” he added.
Lam Sokha denied she had been involved with drug trafficking in 2005 but said she had paid money to secure her release.
“When I was arrested by the anti-drug police in 2005, I was asked for $20,000 for my release. I had to sell a car and other property to pay for them. I did not know that my payment was a bribe, but I had no choice. I had to pay them for my release,” she told the court yesterday, adding that she should be released.
Reach Sokhon, deputy chief of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, and related police officials could not be reached for comments yesterday.
Suos Sam Ath said the trial would continue on June 24.