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Man says court officials extorted

A JUDGE and deputy prosecutor at Battambang provincial court requested US$13,000 to secure the release of nine people arrested in a raid on a guesthouse suspected of doubling as a brothel, the owner of the guesthouse said yesterday.

Khan Socheat, owner of Cobra III Guesthouse and Restaurant in Battambang town, said he had filed a complaint to the Anticorruption Unit on Tuesday, alleging that Judge Phlong Visal and deputy prosecutor Long Hokmeng “extorted” the money from him in exchange for the release of nine workers.

Police arrested the nine during a raid on the guesthouse in April 2009, suspecting it of acting as a front for a brothel. Khan Socheat said his employees were released the following month, after he paid $13,000 at the request of the two officials.

“I have documents, evidence, I guarantee it. It is not an exaggeration or an illegal accusation. It is an offence of extortion,” he said. “I lodged a complaint to the ACU [because] the officials have taken their power, taken rights provided by the state for their personal interests.”

Khan Sovan, Khan Socheat’s brother, who helped filed the complaint, said he wanted the ACU to initiate legal action against the officials.

“There have never been people suing the court, only the court taking people to jail,” he said. “We wait to see about [ACU head] Om Yentieng’s achievement, whether or not he can do it.”

When contacted yesterday, Om Yentieng said he had not yet seen the complaint from Khan Socheat, and that the body – which held a swearing-in ceremony for some officers on Tuesday – had received seven or eight complaints so far.

Phlong Visal and Long Hokmeng could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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