An army general who served as the personal aide to ousted Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Ang Maltey was arrested by military police yesterday evening for his alleged involvement in procuring bribes from the parents of fugitive tycoon Thong Sarath to secure their release on bail.
According to Colonel Pou Davy of the Phnom Penh Municipal Military Police, Maltey’s right-hand man, Brigadier General Pich Prumhmony, was taken into custody yesterday.
“He was arrested [yesterday] evening by national internal security military police in Phnom Penh. He was arrested under the municipal court prosecutor’s warrant for his arrest,” Davy said yesterday. “He was arrested while he was escaping to Takeo province,” he added, declining to comment in further detail.
Court officials at a party celebrating Maltey’s dismissal on Wednesday accused the former right-hand man of putting pressure on judges and prosecutors, helping Maltey secure unofficial payments and even personally appropriating a Hummer seized from a convicted drug dealer.
National Military Police spokesman Brigadier General Kheng Tito said Prumhmony was taken into custody near Chisor Mountain in Takeo province at about 6:20pm.
Late last night, after being questioned by deputy prosecutor Ly Sophana in the presence of new court president Taing Sunlay and a number of other court and military officials, Prumhmony blamed his arrest on bad luck and “fate” before declining to comment further.
Municipal vice prosecutor Meas Chanpiseth could not be reached for comment regarding the case.
Maltey, Prumhmony’s boss, was officially removed from his position as municipal court president on Wednesday after a speech the day before by Prime Minister Hun Sen accusing certain court officials of “conspir[ing] with thieves” when they permitted the release on bail of Thong Chamroeun and Keo Sary, the parents of Thong Sarath.
The premier’s speech was itself precipitated by the rearrest of Chamroeun and Sary – who face weapons charges – as they allegedly tried to flee to Vietnam in violation of their bail.
Maltey was replaced by Sunlay, his former deputy, in an official ceremony on Wednesday.
Court employees were jubilant over the news of Maltey’s departure at a celebration at the court on Wednesday night, though many there said they were happier to be rid of Prumhmony.