The two top officials in what was first reported as a kidney-trafficking ring based out of a military hospital, then later dismissed as a “training program”, have returned to work, a doctor employed there said.
Lieutenant General Ly Sovan, 54-year-old director of Preah Ket Mealea hospital, and his deputy, 58-year-old Major General Keo Davuth, returned to work on Monday after being released from police custody, said the doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“Their problems are resolved, so they go to work normally,” the doctor said. “Everything is OK. I saw them at work. Nothing has changed.”
A police document obtained by the Post on Sunday said eight people had been detained on suspicion of trafficking human organs. But at a press conference on Monday, Phnom Penh deputy police chief Prum Sothor, from the Municipal Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Office, said the group had not been arrested.
Kidney transplants, he said, were occurring at the hospital, but only as part of a training program involving Chinese doctors. Furthermore, Sothor added, the police document, in which the group was accused of “human trafficking with intent and being the accomplices of human trafficking with intent”, was not meant for the media and “could not be trusted”.
After the eight were released, Phnom Penh Municipal Court released a statement saying that China’s Defence Ministry had donated equipment to the hospital and sent doctors to assist in a training program, but that no trafficking had taken place.
Information posted at Preah Ket Mealea hospital says the defence ministries of the two countries have cooperated on projects. Under one initiative, seven Chinese doctors have been sent to the hospital.
But Cheng Hong Bo, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy, said the kidney program was “definitely not a part of the government scheme”.
“[The] persons concerned are acting in their private capacities and it’s only [the] personal behaviour of some individuals,” he wrote in an email.
Members of the military yesterday refused to speak with a Post reporter at the hospital, asking him to leave the grounds. One civilian staff member said the “case is finished”.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY