Former anti-drug czar Moek Dara (C) at the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post
Appeal hearings were abruptly adjourned yesterday in the high-profile corruption case against former anti-drug czar Moek Dara and his anti-drug chief Chea Leng when an agitated Leng became so overwhelmed with emotion he was unable to speak.
“We will adjourn because he cannot continue like this and he must speak clearly,” judge Chay Chandaravann said.
Leng and Dara have received life sentences for convictions in 25 criminal cases of perpetrating the very crimes they were supposed to fight. Both have pleaded innocent and have appealed all their convictions.
Yesterday, a sobbing and shouting Leng laid the blame for the conspiracy against him and Dara squarely at the feet of current anti-drug police department chief Khieu Saman.
“Everyone at the anti-drug police department knows clearly that Moek Dara and Khieu Saman had a lengthy argument with each other over their roles and positions for a long time,” a tearful Leng yelled.
“I think that the toppling of Moek Dara, his arrest as well as my arrest was originally caused from his lengthy dispute with Khieu Saman,” Chea Leng told the court yesterday, pointing to a string of remarkably “lucky” promotions officials in Saman’s “party” had received after the fall of Dara.
“Because after me and Moek Dara were toppled, Khieu Saman was promoted as new chief of the anti-drug police department, and those police officers who were one-rank, and were close to Khieu Saman, were also promoted to [captains] or majors at the anti-drug police department,” he added.
“I am very disappointed with my life. I have worked very hard, and had also devoted my life for work in cracking down on drug trafficking in my country, but finally, I was arrested and jailed with many criminal accusations. This was very unjust for me,” Leng shouted through tears, unable to compose himself.
Khieu Saman, now secretary- general at the National Authority for Combating Drugs – a post formerly held by Dara – and chief of the Anti-Drug Police Department in the Ministry of Interior, declined to comment on Leng’s allegations about jealous factional infighting.
The court had been examining the sixth case against the pair, in which Leng has been convicted for reporting three drug dealers as drug users, assuring them only a brief stint in rehab before being released in exchange for a bribe.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at firstname.lastname@example.org