Ambassador to South Korea Grilled Over Corruption

Cambodia’s ambassador to South Korea was summoned to appear before the Anti-Corruption Unit on Monday morning for questioning over allegations of corruption, and was expected to be arrested later in the day, the unit’s chief said.

Ambassador Suth Dina was called from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the ACU’s headquarters in Phnom Penh following an extensive investigation into the alleged misconduct, which was opened in response to complaints about him from ministry officials and Facebook users, according to ACU Chairman Om Yentieng.

Suth Dina poses for a selfie, posted to his Facebook page in December
Suth Dina poses for a selfie, posted to his Facebook page in December

“We invited him from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at about 8 a.m. this morning,” Mr. Yentieng said around noon on Monday.

“We have not arrested him yet—we are still listening to his answers first—but in a few hours he will be arrested,” he said.

“I can say that he will not avoid arrest,” he added.

Mr. Yentieng said six ACU officials visited South Korea in March to look into the case and interview Mr. Dina after receiving complaints from multiple sources, including Facebook users, and that the unit had nearly completed its investigation.

“We have almost enough evidence. We have testimony from the witnesses; we have complaints that have been filed on Facebook and other complaints,” he said.

Mr. Yentieng, however, declined to divulge the specifics of the allegations, citing the need to maintain confidentiality so that Mr. Dina could not change his story after reading about the case in the media.

“It is involved with corruption; it’s nothing else,” he said. “We are questioning [him]. If we say something, it could free him from the accusation.”

Mr. Yentieng could not be reached later in the day to confirm whether the ambassador had been arrested. An ACU official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media said that the questioning of Mr. Dina had concluded but refused to disclose his whereabouts.

Chum Sounry, spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said he had “no information” about the case.

Mr. Dina rose to prominence as a member of the anti-government youth group Students’ Movement for Democracy in the late 1990s before beginning an offshoot organization following a fallout with other leaders. He then founded and fronted the Khmer National Front Party before jumping to the Norodom Ranariddh Party in 2006. He eventually defected to the CPP in 2009 and was named an undersecretary of state at the Foreign Affairs Ministry before being appointed the government’s envoy to South Korea in 2014.

Mr. Dina’s tenure as ambassador has been marked by controversy, with the foreign minister writing to him shortly after his appointment to criticize the alleged involvement of his family members in embassy affairs. Mr. Dina has also made headlines for warning Cambodians in South Korea to stay away from CNRP events and threatening migrant workers with deportation.

Following the ACU’s visit to South Korea in March, Mr. Dina wrote on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page, asking the premier to intervene in the corruption investigation and “deliver justice” to him.

“During two years that I worked as royal ambassador to the Republic of Korea, I sacrificed myself to serve the Royal Government, the Cambodian People’s Party, and migrants, students and women who got married in Korea,” Mr. Dina wrote.

“I am now locked in the scenario of being accused and having people sent to audit me,” he said, complaining that the ACU and Foreign Affairs Ministry were seeking a way to “slander and defame” him.

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