The deputy prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has laid provisional charges against a military general arrested in Takeo province on Thursday, according to a senior military police official, in a high-profile case linked to corruption claims that led to the sacking this week of the court’s director.
Hong Vinol, head of the National Military Police’s information and security department, said deputy municipal prosecutor Ly Sophana had completed his questioning of Pech Prum Mony, a brigadier general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) who worked on the security detail of ousted court director Ang Mealaktei.
“The deputy prosecutor provisionally charged Pech Prum Mony with interference in public functions…and unauthorized use of vehicles with emblems of the police or military and he sent [the case] to the investigating judge,” Major General Vinol said.
Mr. Sophana walked away from a reporter when asked about the case on Friday.
According to the Criminal Code, unlawful interference in public functions is punishable by one to three years in prison and a fine of up to 6 million riel (about $1,500), while unauthorized use of a vehicle with a police or military emblem carries penalties of up to a year in prison and a fine of up to 2 million riel (about $500).
Court officials refused to speak about the case Friday, and reporters were ordered to leave the municipal court compound at about 11:30 a.m. The suspect was transported out of the court shortly after 6 p.m.
Military police spokesman Kheng Tito said following the arrest of Brig. Gen. Prum Mony on Thursday that it was related to the municipal court’s decision earlier this month to release on bail the parents of Thong Sarath, a senior Defense Ministry official who has fled charges of coordinating the murder of businessman Ung Meng Chue in November.
In a speech on Tuesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly blasted the decision by the court earlier this month to grant bail to Major General Sarath’s parents, who stand charged with illegal weapons possession after raids on their Phnom Penh villas in December.
The parents—Thong Chamroeun and Keo Sary—were arrested again on February 15 as they attempted to flee to Vietnam in an ambulance.
Mr. Hun Sen suggested that a $5 million bribe may have swayed the court, and requested that the Supreme Council of Magistracy, which disciplines the country’s judges, look into the case. On Wednesday, Mr. Mealaktei was officially removed from his position as municipal court director and replaced by his deputy, Taing Sunlay.
Mr. Mealaktei has been placed under investigation and given a job in the Justice Ministry, although officials have refused to elaborate on what work he will be doing there.
In July, Mr. Mealaktei wrote a letter to General Meas Sophea, deputy commander of RCAF, requesting that Brig. Gen. Prum Mony “help provide security and public order at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.”