Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Officer arrested in Thailand had weapons in his vehicle

Officer arrested in Thailand had weapons in his vehicle

Defence Minister Tea Banh speaks at the National Defence University in 2016 in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied
Defence Minister Tea Banh speaks at the National Defence University in 2016 in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Officer arrested in Thailand had weapons in his vehicle

A Cambodian immigration officer arrested more than a week ago near the scene of an alleged weapons-smuggling bust in Thailand close to Cambodia’s border was also carrying four firearms in his own vehicle, Thai-language news outlets have reported.

Leang Piseth, a first lieutenant in the Ministry of Interior’s General Department for Immigration, was taken into custody in Thailand’s Trat province on Saturday, June 3, along with Phakhin Detphong, a Thai air force officer who was discovered to be transporting a cache of automatic rifles, machine guns, grenades and ammunition after his car crashed near the country’s border with Cambodia’s Koh Kong province.

Thai authorities, who later said the weapons were smuggled from Cambodia and destined for rebels in Myanmar, have said Piseth was detained on suspicion of weapons trafficking, though few other details about the case against him have emerged. Officials, however, suggested he had passed through border checkpoints in way that suggested he was a “very important person”.

According to a translation of reports run by the Thai Public Broadcasting Service and the Thai newspaper Manager late last week, a thorough search of the Range Rover driven by Piseth by police at the Ban Tha Luan Police Station in Trat province found four weapons, including three 9mm Glock handguns, which the reports said were registered, and a machine gun, which was not.

The reports mentioned that Piseth’s fingerprints have been recorded to check whether they match any prints on the weapons discovered in Detphong’s vehicle and that Thai investigators have requested assistance from Cambodian authorities.

An officer at the Ban Tha Luan Police Station yesterday confirmed Piseth was being held in “pretrial detention” but hung up before answering further questions.

Cambodia Defence Minister Tea Banh has said his ministry will investigate. On Sunday, he said he did not have further details about Piseth’s status.

Banh also last week sent a complaint to Thailand’s defence attaché office in Phnom Penh demanding Thai-language news outlets that falsely linked him to the case apologise.

According to the state-run National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT), Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Thursday that Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan had rung Banh to discuss the matter.

According to NNT, Chan-o-cha said the acceptance of responsibility by Thai media who carried the stories would be up to the individual outlets.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10