Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday issued an arrest warrant against a former police officer who escaped custody while waiting to be questioned by an investigating judge over theft allegations.
Court prosecutor Long Cheab identified the accused as Im Ratanak, a 32-year-old former officer with Boeng Tumpon commune police and living in Meanchey district’s Stung Meanchey I commune.
He said Mr Ratanak on Sunday was charged with theft under Articles 353 and 356 of the Criminal Code, noting that he faces between six months to three years in jail.
Mr Cheab added that the accused could now also face an additional charge after he fled the court. He said Mr Ratanak could be charged with escape, under Article 560 and 561 of the Criminal Code.
“The court prosecutor has ordered police to arrest the accused, who has fled, and bring him back to court to be punished in accordance with the law,” Mr Cheab said.
Captain Mao Savoeun, chief of Stung Meanchey I commune police, yesterday confirmed that Mr Ratanak was a penal police officer working with Boeng Tumpon commune police in 2016.
Cap Savoeun noted that Mr Ratanak was often involved with a group of thieves and violated police regulations, adding that he was eventually fired from the forces in 2018.
He said Mr Ratanak in July stole a motorbike from a man living in Stung Meanchey I commune, adding that he drove the motorbike to Takeo province to sell it.
Cap Savoeun said the accused was arrested by commune police on Friday in his house following a complaint filed by the victim against him.
Cap Savoeun noted that police sent Mr Ratanak to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Sunday.
He added that at about 3pm that day, the court prosecutor charged him with theft and transferred the case to the investigating judge for further questioning.
He noted that during a break, Mr Ratanak was allowed to sit on a chair outside the court room while a police officer, who was in charge of him, went to the prosecutor’s office to fetch case documents.
“When the police officer was not being careful and went to the prosecutor’s office to get documents, Mr Ratanak walked away and fled the court,” Cap Savoeun said. “When the officer came back from the prosecutor’s office, Mr Ratanak had already left.”
Cap Savoeun added that police now are working hard to find Mr Ratanak.
Colonel Meng Vimeandara, district police chief, confirmed the accused is still at large.
“He has not been arrested,” he said. “Our officers are now working hard to re-arrest him in accordance with the court warrant.”
Court spokesman Kuch Kimlong could not be reached for comment yesterday.