Cop Among Four Arrested on Extortion Claims

The Interior Ministry said Sunday that it had arrested four men Friday for allegedly extorting money from villagers at an illegal road checkpoint in Kompong Chhnang’s Boribor district.

Those arrested include an unnamed Boribor district police officer, a Kompong Chhnang provincial tax officer and two money collectors, according to Chhay Sinarith, chief of the Interior Ministry’s information department. All four are now in custody at the Ministry of Interior for questioning.

The four allegedly operated a checkpoint on the 7-km dirt road between National Road 5 and the Tonle Sap lake, taking money from fish-sellers and drivers since 2004. They apparently took up to $50 per vehicle, Chhay Sinarith said.

A local company received permission to collect tolls from 2004 to 2020, but not until repairs the company promised are done, he added.

“It means this company colluded with local officers to take money from the villagers, so our villagers in Chhnok Trou commune are not happy,” Chhay Sinarith said, adding that he could not remember the name of the company.

Those unhappy villagers complained to Kompong Chhnang lawmakers, who in turn tipped off the Ministry of Interior, Chhay Sinarith said. That led to a sting operation, which allegedly caught the men in the act about 8 pm Friday.

The police commissariat will discipline the police officer, but the Ministry of Interior could push court cases against the other three.

Ath Khem, Kompong Chhnang provincial police chief, said he didn’t know about his colleague being arrested and referred questions to the Ministry of Interior.

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