A team of special investigators has been dispatched by the Ministry of Interior to Takeo province to probe allegations against deputy police chief Hin Sokheng who is accused of leading accomplices in confining people and demanding ransoms in exchange for their release.
Chief of the ministry’s General Inspection Department, Iv Leang, said head of the Criminal Investigation Division Seng Vannak and five deputies had been assigned to conduct the investigation from January 25-29.
Leang sent a letter to Sar Kheng in September last year requesting an investigation into the case following receipt of complaints dated July 31 from anonymous provincial police officers and members of the public.
The complaints accused brigadier general Sokheng – the deputy Takeo provincial police chief in charge of crimes – of a litany of charges including betraying the public’s trust, tarnishing the reputation of the provincial police, wilful negligence of duties, incompetence and corruption since taking office in early 2019.
Sokheng is also accused of boasting of nepotistic connections to threaten subordinate officials and failing to fulfil his duties of law enforcement.
In two more serious cases, Sokheng is accused of a series of major crimes dating back to late 2019. He and accomplices allegedly confined victims and demanded ransom in exchange for their release.
In the first case, they allegedly demanded $200,000 in ransoms. In the second case on December 31, Sokheng, with lieutenant colonel Sak Touch, lieutenant colonel Ros Sen and accomplices, allegedly confined three Vietnamese and two Cambodian nationals demanding $100,000. The officers also allegedly took bracelets and diamond rings from the detainees. Sen allegedly acted as an interpreter.
On January 1 of last year, complaints were brought to the Takeo provincial police headquarters by two representatives of the detainees – lieutenant general Meas Bunly and major general Sok Sambath from the Ministry of National Defence’s General Department of Logistics and Finance.
They demanded that Sokheng be held accountable under the law and sought the return of property stolen from the detainees who were said to be Vietnamese investors.
According to the letter sent to Sar Kheng, after the complaints were filed, an unidentified officer from the provincial police returned the belongings to the detainees in Phnom Penh.
A provincial court prosecutor had already summoned Sokheng to court once to question him over allegations of illegal confinement in connection with the case.
Takeo provincial court spokesman Lim Sokhorn said on January 26 that he had heard mention of the case by the court director the week before. It was in the hands of prosecutors, and the court would obtain details when formal filings are made.
“There has been a preliminary investigation, but prosecutors have not yet submitted the case to the court. I heard about it informally. We have not yet received official documents from prosecutors,” Sokhorn said.
Provincial court prosecutor Chiv Chandara declined to comment on January 26.
Provincial governor Ouch Phea said he had not received information regarding the case, while provincial police chief Sok Samnang could not be reached for comment.