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Former official faces up to ten years in prison for fraud

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
The accused. Yubmin News

The trial of a former high-ranking military official charged with fraud and possession of an illegal weapon began yesterday at Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Presiding Judge Thlang Phaneth identified the accused as Loth Heng, a former Brigadier General with the Defence Ministry.

Mr Heng was charged with forging a public document, circulating counterfeit currency and possession of an unauthorised weapon. If convicted, the accused faces up to ten years in prison.

Judge Phaneth said that on the morning of March 24, Mr Loth and Sorn Buntheng, his acquaintance, drove past a police checkpoint on a motorcycle in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district.

She said the men did not stop when prompted by police officers, causing the officers to pursue them. Police eventually managed to stop Mr Loth and Mr Buntheng and arrested both men.

“After their arrest, police confiscated a total of $1,080 in counterfeit notes and a pistol,” Judge Phaneth said. “Police also seized fake two-star and three-star general attributions.”

She noted that after the arrest, Mr Heng and Mr Buntheng were both sent to court for questioning. Mr Heng was officially charged on March 27, while Mr Buntheng was released after prosecutors decided that he was not involved.

The accused with the pistol and money seized.

In court yesterday, Mr Heng admitted to the offences and said that the counterfeit notes and the pistol were given to him by an unknown Thai national who remains at large.

He told the court that on the night of his arrest, he and Mr Buntheng met the unknown Thai national in Russey district to speak about business.

Mr Heng said the Thai national wanted to launder cash in Cambodia and asked him to join. He added that the counterfeit notes were printed by the Thai national.

“I have acknowledged that I committed the offences. I promise that I will not do it again,” Mr Heng told the court. “I would like to ask the court to reduce my sentence so that I will be able to resume my work and return to my family.”

A verdict is due November 16.

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