B’bang Court Investigating Police For Extortion

The Battambang provincial court is investigating five police officers accused of extorting thousands of dollars from suspected drug dealers in late June and early September, police and court officials said Tuesday.

The officers, Sok Yim, Soy Bunthoeun, Sok Bora and two others identified only as Nal and Run, all of whom belong to the provincial anti-drug trafficking police, are suspected of making false arrests and demanding a total of $2,300 from their captives, chief prosecutor Yam Yeth said.

“Arresting and forcing a suspect to make a payment is equal to kidnapping,” Yam Yeth said, adding that that is what the court plans to charge the officers with.

The court received complaints from victims and local human rights groups, he said.

Three anti-drug officers raided the home of Bo Vuoch, 39, on June 29 and forced her to pay about $605, as well as testify against another person for drug dealing, according to a letter by the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, dated Sept 14.

Bo Vuoch recently was releas­ed from provincial prison after four months in detention, said Yin Meng Ly of the rights group Adhoc on Tuesday. Drug charges against her were dropped due to lack of evidence, he said.

According to the letter, Kim Peou, 35, also arrested in a separate case on Sept 1 and detained overnight at provincial police headquarters. He was forced to pay about $1,695 for his release, it said.

The letter urged Hok Lundy, the director general of National Police, to intervene in the two cases. “The acts as described above are a serious violation of the law and human rights,” it said. “It has seriously affected the reputation of the national police.”

Calls placed to Hok Lundy were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Battambang provincial police chief Heng Chantha said Tues­day he hoped to give results of his investigation into the officers’ conduct to Hok Lundy this week.

“I cannot protect them,” Heng Chantha said of the five officers. He said more police officials could be implicated in the investigation, and that the five officers will be suspended pending the probe.

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