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Ousted provincial police chief questioned in drug case

Former Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Hun Hean has been detained on suspicion of accepting bribes and involvement in drug trafficking after being removed from his post last week, officials said Monday.

Banteay Meanchey Governor Ung Oeun said Monday that Hun Hean – no relation to Prime Minister Hun Sen – was being held along with Banteay Meanchey Deputy Police Chief Chheang Sun by National Police officials.

“We welcome the skillful investigation by the National Authority for Combating Drugs and the Ministry of Interior that has probed former provincial police chief Hun Hean on suspicion of taking bribes and conspiring with illegal businessmen on drug crimes,” Ung Oeun said.

The governor said that he had received reports that Hun Hean was involved with “several different drug crimes”, and that the investigation that led to his removal from his position had lasted roughly six months.

“I firmly believed and had confidence that top-level authorities with enough ability would conduct a thorough investigation against him and obtain enough documents to prove that he was guilty of taking bribes and not cracking down on drug crime,” Ung Oeun said.

Hun Hean denied on Sunday that he had been involved in corruption, suggesting that his removal was engineered by a rival in the government.

“I’m not involved with corruption or administrative mistakes like the allegations say, but my removal may have been the result of trickery or jealousy in relation to my position, where I have worked for three years,” Hun Hean said. “In my life, I have never been greedy and have always donated money to poor people to help them improve their lives.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Hun Hean and Chheang Sun had been detained for questioning at National Police headquarters.

“We just brought them for interrogation, and we haven’t charged them yet because our team is still in the process of interrogating them on suspicion of drug crime,” Khieu Sopheak said.

“We will reveal the outcome of the investigation when it is completed, and we are not yet sure whether the case will be transferred to the [Anticorruption Unit] for further investigation.”

Hun Hean was removed from his position following a letter from Interior Minister Sar Kheng dated Friday, which installed Deputy Provincial Police Chief Chan Kosal as acting Police Chief.

Provincial officials said on Sunday that Hun Hean had been transferred to the staff department at the Ministry of Interior in Phnom Penh pending the outcome of  the investigation.

Ung Oeun said that in three years as provincial police chief, Hun Hean had seemingly played an active role in fighting crime.

“I can’t say whether or not he is a good man, but during his three years of work he made a very good effort in cracking down on all kinds of crimes,” he said.

“From the outside, it seems like he improved security in the province, but we don’t always know the details of what’s going on behind the scenes.”

In August, Hun Hean presided over an investigation that led to the seizure of nearly 13 million flu tablets commonly used to manufacture methamphetamines, one of the Kingdom’s largest-ever drug busts.

More arrests coming: ACU
Also Monday, Anticorruption Unit head Om Yentieng said in a speech to Ministry of Culture officials that three or four unnamed anti-drug police officers will be arrested in the next few days for allegedly releasing detainees in exchange for bribes.

“We will arrest them so that they can be prosecuted in connection with arresting drug smugglers and then releasing them in return for taking bribes of between 20,000 and 160,000,” Om Yentieng said, neglecting to specify the currency of the alleged bribes.

The ACU head referred follow-up questions on the matter to ACU spokesman Keo Remy, who could not be reached for comment.

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