Committee to Investigate Embattled Kompong Thom Police Chief

The Interior Ministry has created a committee to investigate a second corruption complaint against a police chief in Kompong Thom province who already faced accusations from officers that he took money for jobs and promotions.

Pen Vibol, head of the ministry’s personnel department, said the committee would review evidence from other provincial jurisdictions.

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Major General Chou Sam An. (Fresh News)

“We suspect this provincial police chief probably did collect money from his subordinates for promotions, because the people who were promoted are not on the list of those requested from communes and districts,” Mr. Vibol said.

The ministry has been investigating Chou Sam An since last month after six district officers, who have not been identified, filed a complaint against him alleging that he had accepted bribes of up to $7,000 to fill positions in his department.

Those investigations wrapped up last week, with Mr. Vibol saying that accusations of bribery could not be verified, but that Major General Sam An might still lose his position, given his inappropriate treatment of subordinates. The probe found that Maj. Gen. Sam An did not conduct formal weekly or monthly meetings with his staffers as required and was very strict, Mr. Vibol said.

On Sunday, however, another complaint surfaced against Maj. Gen. Sam An, this one with names unobscured, appearing on government mouthpiece Fresh News. It had been filed with the National Police on January 25 by four brigadier generals—Om Tilea, Lim Hen, Lurn Nalorm, Ke Khannala—and one colonel, Keo Sophal, all of whom work in the Kompong Thom police force.

Contacted on Sunday, Mr. Khannala said he had enough evidence against Maj. Gen. Sam An to substantiate the complaint, but declined to comment further.

“We have enough evidence to put the burden on the provincial police chief—that he committed corruption—but I don’t want to say more than this because this is an internal issue,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Sam An denied the charges, but said he welcomed the review by the new committee, as it would exonerate him.

The investigation “is a good sign because they will find the truth for me,” he said on Sunday. “I am not worried about the investigations of the committee because I did not commit a crime, like the accusations say.”

Maj. Gen. Sam An had said earlier that the six district officers who made the previous allegations against him were motivated by jealousy because they had not received promotions themselves.

Mr. Vibol said the investigation would begin on Thursday, and that Maj. Gen. Sam An would be transferred to work at the Interior Ministry during the probe, as required by the department’s internal rules.

He may never return to the force. Because of his age, Maj. Gen. Sam An, 59, will soon be offered retirement, Mr. Vibol added.

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