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Hundreds of thousands in bribes under appeal

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Moek Dara (L) and Chea Leng (R) have their handcuffs removed at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Moek Dara (L) and Chea Leng (R) have their handcuffs removed at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

The court of Appeal yesterday continued to try former Cambodian drug czar Moek Dara and his one-time head of special operations, Morn Doeun, for several corruption cases in which they are accused of receiving bribes, creating spurious drug cases and leading criminal groups between 2007 and 2011.

The day’s account largely focused on Douen – who is still at large – and raids he conducted in which he seized drugs, property and released suspects in exchange for exorbitant bribes.

During one bust more than two years ago, Douen arrested three drug traffickers and then released them for US$20,000, presiding judge Chhay Chandaravann said. He then split the bribe down the middle with Dara and kept the car.

In another instance, he tampered with the case of a drug trafficker by lessening the allegations against him. The trafficker was later released by Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court’s prosecutor because of lack of proof.

Later in the day, the court delved into the way Dara kept authorities around him happy by cutting them off a slice of the pie.

He cited the case of Sok Theth, a suspected drug trafficker whom Dara helped free in exchange for $120,000 in 2009.

Dara then doled out $20,000 to, among others, Brigadier General Lo Methona, who was a military official working at the border in Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet Town; $10,000 to Brigadier General Hun Hean, former Chief of Banteay Meanchey’s Provincial Police; and $10,000 to Colonel Chheang Son, former deputy chief of Banteay Meanchey’s Provincial Police.

Dara denied that he had ordered Doeun to fake reports or cases so that suspects would be released.

He had also denied that he had conspired with Doeun in committing the crimes.

“I consider that these accusations are nothing more than written words in order to put blame on me. I cannot accept it,” he added.

Dara and Doeun’s appeal hearing will continue today.

The court is expected to wrap up the appeal hearing by next Monday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at reaksmeykongkea.buth@phnompenhpost.com

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