The mother of a convict who is still being held in prison despite completing his term at Banteay Meanchey provincial prison last week said yesterday court officials solicited a bribe when she sought to have him released.
Noeun Saran, 27, was convicted in November last year of breach of trust for taking money from villagers seeking jobs abroad with the recruitment firm TNT, a company whose management fled into hiding shortly before officials raided the operation.
When police arrived on November 23 Saran was the only person left at the establishment and he was given a one-year jail term that ended on November 20.
Saran’s mother, Meas Bin, 58, said, when she went to court this month to seek his release, she was told a court prosecutor had instead filed a complaint appeal against her son’s release and was asked to pay a bribe.
“I was asked how much money I had. I have no money, I am so poor. I want the court to release my son,” she said.
Bin had travelled all the way from Chrey Bakk commune in Kampong Chhnang province’s Rolea Ba’ier district to bring her son home from prison.
Banteay Meanchey court officials could not be reached yesterday to answer Bin’s bribery allegation.
Deputy president of the Banteay Meanchey prison Sing Sareth said court officials made a decision to continue to detain Saran on November 14 because they had discovered he had been involved in other criminal activities.
“The convict is currently being detained in prison,” she confirmed, but declined to comment in any more detail.
Adhoc provincial co-ordinator Sum Chankea said his team had received details of Saran’s detention but his organisation had previously intervened to secure the release of inmates at Banteay Meanchey prison held past their sentence and had been promised this practice had been outlawed.
June’s annual prison briefing paper from rights group
Licadho found Cambodian prisons were at 170 per cent capacity this year, exacerbated by the unofficial practice of court staff being “too busy” to swiftly process inmates’ release paperwork.
Licadho said it had documented numerous instances in which prisoners were held past the end of their sentence due to missing or late paperwork, a practice they found was often used as code for court officials to request bribes.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lieng Sarith at [email protected]