Former Banlung Town Governor Uk Samol was arrested in Phnom Penh on Wednesday and sent to pre-trial detention in Ratanakkiri after being accused of theft in relation to the sale of a rubber plantation, though details of his alleged crime remained unclear.

Ratanakkiri Prosecutor Chea Pich yesterday confirmed Samol had been remanded to prison but did not confirm the charges. “He was questioned and we decided to detain him in prison temporarily, but do not ask any details,” he said.

Kachanh Commune Police Chief Suon Savuth said the crime related to the sale of 10 hectares of rubber plantation between two other people in the commune, one of whom failed to pay an agreed sum, but did not say what the complaint against Samol was.

A warrant issued by Ratanakkiri Provincial Court in July called for Samol’s arrest on a charge of being an accomplice to theft.

“Uk Samol escaped from Ratanakkiri province, so the court should issue a warrant to arrest [him],” the warrant reads.

Suos La, Ratanakkiri Provincial Court director, and Hak Horn, court spokesman, could not be reached.

Samol courted controversy in 2015 when he tried to change the private operator of a Banlung market, resulting in protests from vendors which eventually caused the government to reverse the decision.

The former governor was also sued for $3,000 by a local army veteran for seizing construction materials without a court warrant. Samol claimed the veteran was illegally building the house on public land.