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Rich convicts faking illness return to prison

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:
Thong Sarath leaves the court after a hearing over his charges. Supplied

Police officers returned wealthy prisoners, including tycoon Thong Sarath, to Prey Sar prison from the Khmer-Soviet Hospital on Saturday after concluding some were faking illnesses.

A Prey Sar officer who asked not to be named said yesterday that the move was made by the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Prisons after an investigation revealed some rich convicts were faking diseases in order to stay with their families and continue conducting their often illegal businesses.

The officer added that in the past, prisoners sent for treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Hospital took it as an opportunity to escape.

“Some rich prisoners want to be able to deal with their court case or see their families outside the prison, so they pretend to be sick and request treatment,” he said.

He identified some of the prisoners who have been staying at the hospital and had been sent back to Prey Sar, one of them being Oknha Thong Sarath, a 41-year-old businessman and former military official who was charged with ordering the murder of rival tycoon Ung Meng Chue in 2014.

Mr Sarath had high-blood pressure, and had been staying at the hospital since April 2017.

Other well-known convicts who were brought back to Prey Sar include former director of inspection at the Ministry of Posts Chem Sangvar, 46, convicted of embezzling $100,000, former Khmer Rouge Commander Khem Ngun, 65, convicted over the murder of British deminer Christopher Howes in 1996. Both had high blood pressure and suffered a heart attack while in prison.

Brigadier General Chan Kimseng, director of the General Department of Prisons, said the prisoners were transferred back because their health had recovered.

Brig Gen Kimseng said all sick prisoners have the same legal right to treatment outside the prison’s health centre if the severity of their sickness warrants it.

However, they must undergo a strict medical examination before being transferred, and must be certified by the prison’s medical doctor and chief of the prison.

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