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Journalists arrested on suspicion of extortion

Two Cambodian journalists, including the deputy head of a local press association, were arrested yesterday on suspicion of extorting a commune chief after accepting money from undercover police officers.

Sok Sovann, president of the Press Council of Cambodia, said the journalists were arrested at the Sorya bus station in Phnom Penh by police posing as middlemen in a transaction.

He said the arrested journalists include Kang Arun, vice-president of the PCC, and Prum San, a reporter with the Kampuchea Sachak newspaper.

The police, he said, were acting on a complaint received from Leng Horm, the chief of Pram Yam commune in Kampong Cham province’s Srei Santhor district. Leng Horm alleged the two journalists forced him to pay US$300 in return for not publishing stories about his poor management of the commune.

“[The journalists] were arrested while receiving a total of US$200 from policemen who disguised themselves as taxi drivers and brought money from the commune chief for them in Phnom Penh,” said Sok
Sovann.

He said the accused had been sent to Kampong Cham provincial police headquarters and would appear at provincial court today.

“I am now very concerned about these two journalists’ fate because the police have strong evidence to punish them within the law,” said Sok Sovann. “I’m afraid that they will not avoid charges.”

Sok Sovann said he would send a letter to the Kampong Cham police chief, on behalf of the PCC, to keep the accused from being charged.

Leng Horm could not be reached yesterday.

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