Khmer National United Party president Nhek Bunchhay was yesterday taken in for police questioning over a drug production case in Kampong Speu province from 2007.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the former deputy prime minister and RCAF commander was being held while police carried out further investigations into other suspects implicated in the case.
“He is currently at the National Police headquarters in Phnom Penh,” he said.
National Police chief Neth Savoeun said officers had applied for a court order to question Mr Bunchhay about drug production in Kampong Speu’s Phnom Sruoch district.
“Police invited Mr Bunchhay for questioning, but we did not arrest him yet,” he said.
In April 2007, a joint police force raided and confiscated about six tonnes of raw material used in drug production in Kampong Speu’s Phnom Sruoch district and also in Phnom Penh. The authorities arrested 18 people during the raid: 14 Cambodians and four foreigners.
Two months later, the authorities arrested two important suspects; Oum Chhay, who was an adviser to National Assembly President Heng Samrin, and Chea Chung, the owner of the land and farm where the raw drug material was stored.
Mr Chhay committed suicide by jumping off a building on August 21, 2007.
Mr Chung was known to be the former adviser of Mr Bunchhay.
A party official who asked not to be named told Khmer Times last month that Mr Bunchhay was questioned on June 4 this year when he went to a polling station to cast his vote during the commune elections in Banteay Meanchey province.
“There was a group of people who followed him and they were armed,” he said.
Mr Bunchhay was put in charge of the country’s military during the Funcinpec-CPP coalition government in 1993. He was later appointed as a deputy prime minister in 2004, but his title was altered to government adviser in 2013.
Mr Bunchhay left Funcinpec to launch the KNUP last year, which became the only party other than the CPP and CNRP to win a commune in the June 4 polls.
In June, the King granted the Prime Minister’s request for Mr Bunchhay to be stripped of his role as a government advisor.
Mr Hun Sen had asked for the KNUP leader to be punished following suspicion about his involvement with the opposition CNRP.
King Norodom Sihamoni later signed a royal decree ending Mr Bunchhay’s role as an advisor to the government, which was equal in status to deputy prime minister.