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More graft charges mulled

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Brigadier General Pich Prumhmony is escorted out of Phnom Penh Municipal Court by prison guards in March after being questioned. Vireak Mai

More graft charges mulled

Disgraced former Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Ang Maltey, his ex-right-hand man and the mother of tycoon Tong Sarath may face new charges over an alleged pay-off in February to grant the latter and her husband bail amid a manhunt for their son.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy chief Ly Sophana flagged possible bribery charges yesterday after a hearing for Maltey’s ex-right-hand man, army Brigadier General Pich Prumhmony, 55.

Sophana said Prumhmony was grilled over accusations he secured a bribe on behalf of his boss to grant bail to Sarath’s father, Thong Chamroeun, and mother, Keo Sary, in February.

The couple were recaptured a week later allegedly trying to flee to Vietnam in an ambulance, triggering insinuations by Prime Minister Hun Sen that Maltey had accepted a million-dollar bribe.

Sophana said Sary, 57, also faced questioning on Wednesday over the alleged pay-off, after the Anti-Corruption Unit forwarded the case to the court for further investigation.

He said the two suspects had not been officially charged but explained the accusations against Prumhmony fell under Article 595 of the Criminal Code, which relates to taking bribes and carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. Allegations against Sary, he said, come under Article 606, which deals with offering bribes and carries a potential five-year term.

“I will investigate the matter further before I decide [on the charges],” he added.

As for Maltey – who was arrested last Friday and charged by the Kandal Provincial Court with embezzlement in a separate case – Sophana said he faced the same allegations as Prumhmony but had yet to be questioned over the alleged pay-off.

Sarath’s parents were arrested in December after illegal firearms were found at their home by police investigating the murder of businessman Ung Meng Cheu, a hit allegedly masterminded by their son, who was arrested in April in Vietnam.

Maltey was swiftly fired amid the premier’s criticism of their alleged escape.

The ACU then began investigating his conduct as a judge, leading to his arrest on April 8 amid allegations of widespread graft.

Prumhmony, detained in Prey Sar prison since February 19, has also been accused of pressuring judicial officials while working for Maltey.

He has been charged by the municipal court with unlawful interference with the performance of public functions, and the unauthorised use of a vehicle with military or police licence plates.

Yesterday, outside court, Prumhmony rejected all accusations of wrongdoing.

“I am innocent and am also the victim of accusations in these cases.

I would like to ask the court to find the truth and justice for me and release me,” he added.

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