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Ministry accused of graft

A woman has filed a complaint to the Anticorruption Unit accusing Interior Ministry officials in Phnom Penh of extorting money from her after wrongfully arresting and detaining her son.

Teng Sokchea, 46, said yesterday that she filed a complaint to the ACU on Monday after her 22-year-old son and three of his friends had been arrested in Russey Keo district on Sunday, and accused of buying a motorbike with fake licence plates.

She said the four suspects were detained in a cell at the Ministry of Interior overnight, and were only released the following morning when family members arrived to pay fees of up to US$400 demanded by officials.

“They accused my son and his friends of buying a motorbike with fake number plates and they tried to force my son to admit the crime they accused him of,” she said.

“I gave $250 to the officer for the release of my son. At first I told them that I have only $200, but they asked me for $50 more,” she said, adding that she had had to borrow the extra $50.

She said her son had bought the motorbike in question from his uncle, and denied that it had fake number plates.

“I still wonder why the police arrested and detained my son that night,” she said. “He is a good person and he did not do anything wrong from the law.”

But Horm Kunthy, director of the Investigations Bureau at the Interior Ministry’s Criminal Police Department, said yesterday that the arrests were justified.

“We got information from the local police [that they] suspected that [the four accused] bought a motorbike from a thief to sell in the province, and then we went to arrest them in order to question them,” he said.

He said he had accepted money from Teng Sokchea in exchange for her son’s release, but claimed that Teng Sokchea had offered the money freely.

“Actually she agreed to give me $250 [in exchange] for taking her son back home,” he said, adding that officials had only agreed to accept the money and release Teng Sokchea’s son because they “felt pity for her”.

He said he was not concerned about the possibility of an ACU investigation.

“I don’t care or worry about her complaint to the ACU because it is her right to do that and I will prepare myself to appear to answer all the questions about her case if the ACU officers invite me for questioning,” he said, adding that he was not worried “because I am not wrong”.

ACU head Om Yentieng, and spokesman Keo Remy could not be reached for comment yesterday.



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