Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged three National Police officers with accepting bribes in exchange for the release of 18 Chinese nationals suspected of operating Voice over Internet Protocol scams in Kampong Speu province.
The three officers were identified as Soeu Sitha, deputy director of the Identification Department at the General Department of Identification; Rath Pin, Khmer Identity bureau officer at the General Department of Identification; and Van Sopheap, legal procedure bureau officer at the General Department of Immigration.
They were arrested on July 18 by the Interior Ministry’s Counter Terrorism and Transactional Crimes Department. The three officers were previously questioned by the Anti-Corruption Unit before they were sent to the municipal court.
Suos Vichearandy, court secretariat deputy chief, yesterday said the accused are now in pre-trial detention.
“They were charged for accepting bribes, attempting to obstruct law enforcement,” he said. “They are being detained at PJ prison.”
According to the Criminal Code, those accepting bribes could face punishment of between five to 10 years in jail, while attempting to obstruct law enforcement could lead to punishment between two to five years in jail.
Kampong Speu provincial police arrested the 18 Chinese nationals last week after raiding a warehouse rented by the suspects. Officers confiscated 21 phones, five laptops, two printers, 33 desktops and six walkie-talkies.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said that he welcomed the charges laid against the three police officers.
“I think this is just the tip of the iceberg among other cases involving other officials,” he said.
Lieutenant General Uk Heisela, deputy general at the General Department of Immigration, said the 18 Chinese nationals remain detained at the Immigration Department.
“They are still in custody because we are waiting to complete the documents to deport them back to China,” he said.