Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Paid to protect brothels

Paid to protect brothels

Paid to protect brothels

The former head of Phnom Penh’s anti-human trafficking police was tried in absentia yesterday for soliciting protection money from brothel owners and paying officers to hide under-age sex workers, even after he was sacked.

Eam Rattana, former chief of the Phnom Penh municipal anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection police office, was sacked in 2009 but allegedly continued to help brothel owners until he was charged with corruption in April this year.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Presiding Judge Duch Kimsorn said the 54-year-old, who fled into hiding shortly after a warrant was issued for his arrest, provided protection to three men running sexual services out of their coffee shops.

“Eam Rattana ordered his closest people to collect money for him from a number of brothels for his protection from police crackdowns or arrests,” Duch Kimsorn said.

Eam Rattana is accused of providing protection to Sok Heng, 53, Ly Mao, 45, and  Nguyen Yaing Tung, 50, even after being demoted to deputy chief of staff for the Phnom Penh Municipal Police Commissioner.

Sok Heng was arrested during a raid on his coffee shop in Daun Penh district’s Boeung Raing commune. Ly Mao and Nguven Yaing Tung managed to evade capture.

Municipal anti-human trafficking police officer Pov Heng testified that, during a meeting in October, 2010, Eam Rattana had asked him to provide information about investigations into brothel owners who paid him a monthly fee and to alert him to raids against them.

“To do this for him, I was paid an extra [US]$200 by him per month. I got this money from him every month, on the fifth at the beginning of every new month,” Pov Heng said.

Another of Eam Rattana’s former subordinates, Sok Reaksmey, said the accused had paid him to hide sex workers under 18 years old during the raids.

“I also received $200 from him per month,” Sok Reaksmey said.

Defendant Sok Heng denied he had run a brothel from his coffee shop and said he had merely borrowed money occasionally from his old friend Eam Rattana, whom he had known since 1986.  

But he alleged he had collected money from brothel owners for his boss’ replacement, current chief of the Phnom Penh municipal anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection police office, Keo Thea. “I used to collect US$2,500 from five brothels to Keo Thea every per month. I gave him [the money] via his police officer, Sreng Hong,” he said. 

Keo Thea said the accusation was completely false and motivated by spite because he had replaced Eam Rattana after he was sacked for corruption. “As a competent police official, I have always strictly obeyed police discipline and the laws. I could not commit this stupid thing. I think that this accusation is aimed at destroying my good profile, reputation and honour,” he said.

Prosecutor Hor Lina told the court there was sufficient evidence to meet the burden of proof against all the accused. “I would like to ask the court to decide on their case and punish them by the law,” he said.

Ly Mao, Nguven Yaing Tung and their lawyers could not be reached for comment. The verdicts are expected on Tuesday.

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release