A prison guard has been suspended for feigning sleep in a hammock and secretly filming and selling footage of Russian tycoon Sergei Polonsky unleashing an expletive-laden tirade on an associate, a prison official said today.
Tan Nareth, deputy director of the Preah Sihanouk provincial prison, said Mork Sophal, 49, deputy director of the prison’s logistics office, had been suspended for three months after filming the jailed Russian and selling it to a journalist for an undisclosed “small amount” of money.
“He’s broken the rules,” Nareth said. “He confessed and realised his mistake. He expressed his regret over the incident.”
Polonsky, Alexander Karachinsky, 25, and Konstantin Baglay, 25, were arrested on December 30 and charged with intentional violence and illegal detention over an alleged incident on a boat off the coast of Sihanoukville.
Nareth said Sophal had secretly filmed Polonsky – whose arrest has dominated headlines in Russia – on Saturday and again on Sunday, when officials found him lying in a hammock with the camera of his mobile phone running.
A video appearing on the website of Russian news outlet Life News showed an anxious and at times enraged Polonsky pacing the provincial prison yard in a burgundy pyjama-like outfit, smoking a cigarette and shouting expletives at a blond-haired male visitor.
Polonsky’s two co-accused are seen standing nearby in standard-issue blue and white prison shirts and civilian shorts.
Less than two minutes into the heated monologue, curious onlookers in prison attire are seen gathering at the camera’s edge.
The video – which Life News said was an exclusive – has the clarity of footage captured on a mobile phone camera and the shakiness of someone lying in a hammock trying to look inconspicuous.
According to Life News, Polonsky – among a shower of expletives bleeped out on the video – tells his visitor that he was framed and threatens to fire him.
The man is reportedly Ostap Doroshenko, from Sihanoukville’s Snake House Restaurant and Hotel, who has provided Polonsky with assistance since his arrest, and who could not be reached for comment today.
His father, Nikolai, and Polonsky co-own Koh Dek Koul, an island near where the businessman and his co-accused were arrested.
The three Russians are accused of threatening a boatman with a knife, locking him in a room and forcing him and his fellow crew to jump overboard.
The six men, employees of Snake House, have since withdrawn their complaint in exchange for $20,000 compensation, but the case’s investigating judge has not suggested that the case will be dropped.
Tel Samuth, a translator for Polonsky, said he had been liaising with the Russians’ lawyer in Moscow, Sergei Vladi, who has encouraged him to find the men another Cambodian lawyer after they fired the first.
Vladi was also trying to organise a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to explain the whole “misunderstanding”, Samuth added.
Sophal’s parole-like punishment will require him to report to the prison two times a day.
After three months, the Minister of Interior’s general department of prisons will decide on his future.
To contact the reporters on this story: Cheang Sokha at [email protected] and Shane Worrell at [email protected]