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New prison chief appointed

A new prison chief has been appointed as head of the scandal-plagued Banteay Meanchey provincial prison, officials said yesterday.

Former Pursat province prison farm chief Hin Sophal will replace acting prison chief Sam Ny, who will return to his position as deputy director at the Ministry of Interior’s general department of prisons operations, Ministry of Interior spokesman Sorn Keo said.

“The prison has improved already under the management of Sam Ny, so he will return to the Ministry of Interior,” Sorn Keo said.

Hin Sophal told the Post yesterday that he would bring large-scale changes to the prison’s operations. “I will have a meeting with all prison officials and I will impose stiff penalties on prison officials who do something wrong, as they have done in the past,” he said, adding that he had started his new position last Friday.

His predecessor, Sam Ny, was appointed as acting prison chief in July after a series of corruption scandals saw the removal of several prison chiefs in quick succession.

Last December, Banteay Meanchey prison chief Nuon Vanna was arrested on corruption charges for allegedly accepting a US$40,000 bribe to release an American-Khmer prisoner. A quick succession of temporary prison chiefs followed his incarceration, including Phean Sophorn who was removed from his position in July due to what Ministry of Interior officials described as “irregularities” at the prison.

The Anti-Corruption Unit launched an investigation into drug use and dealing in the prison in July and Sam Ny was appointed its chief on a temporary basis.

There is less corruption at the prison since Sam Ny took over, said Soum Chankea, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc. “Prison chiefs should be changed about every three years to prevent corruption,” he said. “I hope the new prison director will work hard against the corruption and drug problems in the prison.”

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