The well-connected chief of Battambang province’s military police, accused of collecting tens of thousands of dollars from illegal gamblers and of framing supposed drug dealers, has been promptly cleared following an official denial.
A document released by the Anti-Corruption Unit on Tuesday said that unnamed complainants had filed a suit against Por Vannak for taking up to $10,000 per month from local gamblers in exchange for their immunity.
Vannak was also accused of ordering his inferiors to frame local youth for dealing drugs, then threatening them into paying $1,000 to $5,000 for their freedom following their arrest.
However, Por Vannak – whose son, Por Vannith, is married to a daughter of national military police chief Sao Sokha and is the head of military police in neighbouring Siem Reap province – wrote a letter to the ACU in October denying all the allegations, and is now cleared.
Reached yesterday, Vannak said his forces “actively” cracked down on all sorts of crimes.
“The rural people bet 1,000 to 2,000 riel [$0.25 to $0.50], so how could they pay $1,000 to $2,000 [to me]? I think that is very ridiculous,” he said.
Vannak asked for the complainants to be named, because such accusations discouraged hardworking officers. He threatened to take legal action against them.
“Do not hide, I want to confront them.”
On December 21, ACU head Om Yentieng confirmed the ACU had received Vannak’s denial, according to the original ACU statement.
Yentieng said he was busy at a meeting and could not comment yesterday.
However, Kheang Seng, deputy chief of the ACU, said there would be no further investigation into the case.
“Generally, according to our procedure, the testimony is part of the resolution. We have received the information and explanation via the testimony,” Seng explained.
Meanwhile, Yin Mengly, Battambang provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that gambling took place openly in the province but was rarely stopped.
“Don’t say the authorities do not know about it, because it obviously happens in front of their eyes,” he said.
Commenting in general about the ACU, Ou Virak, a political analyst and head of the Future Forum think tank, said the institution was controlled directly by Prime Minister Hun Sen and seldom started investigations.
“It’s always a political call whether a case should be investigated or not,” he said.