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
The arrest was personally carried out by the new deputy of
Phnom Penh Police Inspectorate, So Phan an appointee from FUNCINPEC.
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
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.
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
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.