The head of Cambodia’s Anti-Corruption Unit yesterday all but absolved disgraced former Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Ang Maltey of culpability in a high-profile bribery case, confirming that he was no longer under active investigation.
In February, Maltey, who recently faced trial over a separate embezzlement accusation, granted bail to the parents of tycoon Thong Sarath – who is accused of masterminding the assassination of another businessman.
The couple had been detained after a raid on their home found illegal firearms.
At the time, Prime Minister Hun Sen suggested Maltey had taken a hefty bribe to release the pair, who were recaptured attempting to flee to Vietnam. But during an event yesterday, ACU director Om Yentieng, who has been forced to deny allegations he has close personal ties to Maltey, said the former judge was not the person to blame.
Yentieng instead laid the most of the responsibility at the feet of Maltey’s aide, Pich Prumhmony, who was last year convicted of meddling in a court investigation related to the case.
Yentieng said Prumhmony had convinced Sarath’s parents he had influence over Maltey, who in turn ordered their release because he “believed” and was influenced by Prumhmony.
He said it was “appropriate” that the Ministry of Justice sacked Maltey because there was “no reason” he should have been swayed by his aide, but “in the face of the law” it was Prumhmony, not Maltey, who was guilty of corruption.
Asked to clarify his comments after his speech, Yentieng would just say that the ACU investigation found Prumhmony – who during his trial testified that he was following Maltey’s orders – played the central role in the release of Sarath’s parents, who were later convicted on illegal weapons charges.
“It was Mr Pich Prumhmony, and without him I believe the suspects would not have been released,” he said by telephone. He said Maltey was no longer under investigation unless more evidence came to light.
Yentieng’s comments follow the decision of the prosecutor during Maltey’s embezzlement trial, which heard evidence he granted bail to a now-convicted drug dealer in exchange for an Audi SUV, to lobby for a lesser sentence for the former judge.