Cop Faces New Complaints of Strong-Arming

A woman in debt to a Phnom Penh police officer’s wife alleged Thursday that the couple threatened her and then suggested pros­titution as a means to repay the money.

Chhet Hang, a 28-year-old fisherwoman, is the second person to come forward with complaints against moneylender Sin Sarann and husband El Rany, Russei Keo’s deputy police chief.

The couple has denied both charges.

Informed of the latest complaints Thursday, El Rany denied mistreating Chhet Hang, or that the debt owed to his wife had driven anyone into the sex trade.

“They all became prostitutes by themselves and they were prostitutes before they owed money. I am the one who implements the law, so why would I be involved in something like that?” El Rany asked Thursday.

According to Chhet Hang’s story, El Rany arrested her and her mother in April over out­stand­ing debts and threatened them if they failed to pay the debt to his wife.

Chhet Hang’s claimed her debt to Sin Sarann stemmed from a $150 loan in 2002. But under sky-high interest rates, the debt now stands at $2,632. After working as a prostitute herself, Chhet Hang claims to have paid about $750 back to Sin Sarann, but had no hope that she could keep pace with interest rates.

“They said if I don’t have the money, they would confiscate my house…. I was very afraid,” she said Thursday.

Chhet Hang said she was considering a lawsuit against El Rany and Sin Sarann for what she said was a case of illegal arrest and in­tim­idation.

Last month, fisherman Tang Dong lodged a court complaint, charging that El Rany had arrested him without warrant and taunted him with imprisonment over a debt owed to his wife.

El Rany says Tang Dong is in­citing Sin Sarann’s debtors to file complaints to buttress his case.­

“He never pays his debt, he just walks around encouraging other people to complain,” the deputy police chief said.

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