The 38-year-old former governor of Ratanakkiri province’s Banlung city was apprehended in Phnom Penh yesterday nearly six months after a warrant for his arrest was issued.
Keng Sokunthea, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s penal department, said his officials arrested Ouk Sam Ol in front of Preah Kossamak Hospital yesterday morning.
“We arrested him based on the arrest warrant of Ratanakkiri Provincial Court,” he said. “In the warrant, he was charged with conspiracy to steal.”
Mr Sam Ol has already been handed over to the Ratanakkiri provincial police chief, he added, while declining to comment in more detail.
According to the warrant signed by investigating judge Yin Visith on July 18, Mr Sam Ol was charged after committing a crime in Banlung city’s Kachanh commune on January 9 last year.
The warrant said police from the Ratanakkiri provincial minor crimes bureau had confirmed that Mr Sam Ol had fled after they found his home in Beong Kanseng commune locked and unoccupied.
Based on this information, the court issued the arrest warrant and ordered public authorities to find him.
Ratanakkiri provincial police chief Nguon Koeun declined to comment, saying he was not working on this case. However his deputy Phen Dina, who is in charge of penal crimes, said he had not received Mr Sam Ol yet.
“Police officials just have the role of implementing the court’s order, so I cannot elaborate,” he said. Ratanakkiri Provincial Court director Suos La also declined to comment. “I don’t know about this case because I haven’t covered it directly,” he said.
Court spokesman Keo Pisoth could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Mr Sam Ol was removed from his position as Banlung city governor in June 2016 after being accused of discrimination, favouritism and some irregular activities while already under scrutiny over a dispute with market vendors and a ruling party lawmaker in 2015.
In April 2015, more than 200 market vendors and nearby residents endorsed a petition protesting Mr Sam Ol’s plans to seize land next to the market, build more stalls on the plot and charge rent.