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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Police chief says PM intervened in Tep Kolap case

Police chief says PM intervened in Tep Kolap case

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Tep Kolap (C) outside the Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Tep Kolap (C) outside the Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

An outstanding court warrant for Phnom Penh International University rector Tep Kolap was dropped after the intervention of the premier and his wife, according to Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth. 

“Tep Kolap’s case is now ended. She is free from the court’s accusations now. And her court warrant for questioning was also removed from the court,” he told the Post yesterday during a telephone interview.

“Samdech Prime Minister had promised that he will find justice for her. Police will also provide her safety and security,” he said.

On Monday, fleeing what she claims were would-be assassins, Kolap made her way to the premier’s house seeking refuge. After arriving there and meeting with bodyguards, she was then brought in to meet with Bun Rany, said Kolap and an official yesterday.

Declining to comment on the extent of the premier’s intervention, deputy commander of the prime minister’s bodyguard unit, Lieutenant General Chao Tol, confirmed that he “brought Tep Kolap for a meeting with Lok Chumteav Bun Rany”.

While Kolap maintained that those who followed her as she left the Khmer-Soviet Friendship hospital and fired at her car were would-be assassins, Naruth said an investigation revealed the men were all undercover police officers.

“There were no people aiming to assassinate Tep Kolap on that day. Those who drove motorbikes and followed her car on Monday evening were the police agents. They followed her because they had received a warrant for questioning from the court,” he said.

When the men failed to stop the car in order to hand her the warrant, “they shot in the air in order to stop her and the car from driving and escaping.”

That account was disputed by Kolap and three relatives who accompanied her in the car at the time of the shooting.

“If they want me to come in for questioning, they would come during working times, in uniform,” she said. “Why would they do this? Who would shoot?”

“They are the murderers. They wanted to kill me,” she said, adding that though she had planned to seek medical treatment in Singapore this week following her release from prison, she was now too scared to leave her house.

The Supreme Court on Friday dropped embezzlement charges against Kolap, who spent more than a year in prison on allegations of having stolen more than $58 million from CPP Senator Kok An.

Just days later, his lawyer and police revealed there were other outstanding warrants for related cases filed several years ago by Kok An.

Long Dara, one of several lawyers representing the senator, said he had heard only through unofficial channels that the case had been dropped but had not yet been informed by the court.

“My client, as a victim in this case, was not pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision and the releasing of Tep Kolap, because it is an injustice for him,” he said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s President Chiv Keng could not be reached for comment, while the case’s investigating judge, Kor Vandy, picked up his phone but refused to speak when a reporter identified himself.

Ho Sothy, chief of the prime minister’s Cabinet, could not be reached for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at reaksmeykongkea.buth@phnompenhpost.com
With assistance from Abby Seiff

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