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Prison guards claim salaries being stolen

More than 20 guards at Pursat provincial prison filed a complaint to the Ministry of Interior and the Anticorruption Unit on Wednesday, accusing the prison director and an accomplice of allegedly siphoning money from their salaries for almost four years, officials said yesterday.

Prison guard Seng Romana said he was one of 21 guards who requested that prison director Ngoun Lay and director of communications Oun So Khemarak repay money they allegedly stole from the guards’ paychecks every month since the beginning of 2007.

“They cut our salary by 16,500 riel (US$4) every month, but they did not give a specific reason, so it means they took that money and kept it for  their own pockets,” he said.

Another prison guard, Sok So Bona, said that the guards’ salaries were already low.

“When we asked Oun So Khemarak, he said that they took the money to … give to officials who work at the National Bank [of Cambodia],” he said. “We hope that the Ministry of Interior will find justice for us.”

Oun So Khemarak denied allegations of corruption yesterday, claiming that the money was paid to the Friends and Friends Association, which provides four million riel (US$991) to the families of officials who have died and supports troops stationed at Preah Vihear temple.

He also claimed that some money was paid to National Bank of Cambodia officials in exchange for the quick receipt of wages for prison guards and for prison officials to travel to Phnom Penh to obtain those wages.

“In the prison department, we have no policy about this, so do I have to pay my own pocket money?” he said. “I am not afraid of their accusation.”

Prison director Ngoun Lay declined to comment yesterday.

NBC director-general and spokeswoman Nguon Sokha said late yesterday that she was not aware of the complaint, but that the NBC’s activities are “very transparent”.

Koy Boun Sorn, director general of the general department of prisons at the Ministry of Interior, said he had sent his officials to investigate the allegations at Pursat prison.

ACU spokesman Keo Remy said officials had not yet investigated the complaint.



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