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Ex-Minister's arrest prompts police row

Ex-Minister's arrest prompts police row

T he arrest of former minister Ros Chhun in connection with car thefts and

illegal possession of arms has sparked an internal political row within the

police force.

The arrest was personally carried out by the new deputy of

Phnom Penh Police Inspectorate, So Phan an appointee from FUNCINPEC.

But

a police source said his action had angered the Department of Crime Suppression

(DCS) which comes under the inspectorate.

The DCS officers were upset by

Phan going outside normal working practices by not informing them and felt they

should have made the arrest.

But the source, who admitted being close to

the CPP, said Phan may have decided to act because he felt that some elements in

the DCS may have felt loyalty to Chhun. He was the Transport Minister in the SOC

administration.

The source, who was deeply critical of Phan said:"He is a

newcomer. He underestimates criminal police and tries to create mistrust which

is difficult for everybody to work with."

Phan lead a raid on Chhun's

home which recovered 10 rifles, silencers, six grenades and car vehicle number

plates. One of his son's was also taken into custody.

The day before the

raid another of Chhun's sons was reportedly arrested an accused of running a

ring dedicated to the theft of vehicles from foreign aid groups.

The

source said the motive for the raid on Chhun's house was unclear. It may have

been sparked by the initial arrest or a tip-off that Chhun was holding an

arsenal in his house.

The police row is another manifestation of

disagreements that have taken place within different arms of the state as

FUNCINPEC appointees move in on positions held by officials loyal to the

previous administration.

The DCS source said there was no adequate proof

to back the accusation that the ex-minister was involved in the car theft gang.

The police impounded a Cherokee jeep during the arrests but the source said that

it was legally registered.

The NGO Pact says the jeep is the one stolen

from them in Phnom Penh this month.

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