11 Arrested in Attempt to Sell Gov’t Building

Police said Monday that 11 suspects, including a three-star general at the Defense Ministry, have been arrested on suspicion of forging documents in a bid to sell the of­fices of the Agriculture Min­istry’s Fisheries Adminis­tration on Noro­dom Boulevard.

National police and military police collaborated in Saturday’s arrest of RCAF Lieutenant Gen­eral Men Vicheat, a onetime Fun­cin­­pec deputy commander of the military police, and 10 other suspects, said national military police commander Sao Sokha.

The arrests were carried out after officials at the Council of Ministers examined a royal decree purporting to authorize the sale of the building, Sao Sokha said, adding that authorities have yet to locate the group’s ringleader.

“We haven’t arrested the real suspect yet because they passed the documents from one to another,” he said, adding that Men Vicheat is being held at military police headquarters in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district. He referred all further questions to the Interior Ministry.

Deputy National Police Com­missioner Sok Phal said Monday that military police were in charge of the investigation, and he declined to comment further.

In remarks last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen said a fake sub-decree was in circulation that claimed that the fisheries department, which is situated on the junction of Norodom and Mao Tse Toung boulevards, was for sale.

“A few days ago, there was a fake Council of Ministers sub-decree [that authorized] the building of the Fisheries Adminis­tra­tion to be sold,” Hun Sen said. “Who is this group? They are put­ting the building on sale. We are seeking to arrest them,” he added.

Fisheries Administration Direc­tor General Nao Thuok said Mon­day that he had received enquiries in May from businessmen interested in his department.

“There were phone calls seeking information from me about the building. I told them there was no plan to sell the building, and I told them to beware of forged documents,” he said.

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