Demoted Judge Is Investigated for Pimping

Police visited the residence of a former Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge Tuesday to investigate reports that he was renting rooms to illegal immigrants from Viet­nam, while neighbors said some of his tenants were em­ployed in prostitution.

“Yesterday, with cooperation from the Immigration Department at the Ministry of Interior, we went to Oun Bunna’s house and checked for illegal immigrants,” Chea Sothy, chief of the Chak­tomuk commune police in Daun Penh district, said Wednes­day.

Oun Bunna was reassigned from the Municipal Court to the Kam­­pot Provincial Court in July by the Supreme Council of Mag­is­tracy—a demotion the judge condemned as a political move.

When police arrived Tuesday at the three-story house, the judge met them in the street outside and asked their purpose, Oun Bunna said Wednes­­day.

He did not allow them to enter his tenants’ dwellings, he said. Instead, he invited them to the cof­fee shop operating in a rented space on the house’s top floor. He then called up his tenants to prove their right to residency.

Some people came and presented identity documents to po­lice, the commune police chief said.

“It seems that those people knew the police were coming. The people who met police had documents to prove they are Cam­­bodian,” Chea Sothy said.

Oun Bunna confirmed Wednes­day that several Vietnam­ese women rent­ed the rooms from him, where they lived and operated a hair salon.

The judge said Wednesday that police were wrong to try to enter his property, as they did not have a warrant.

“It affected my reputation. Those people living in my house are Vietnamese, but they are married to Cambodians,” he said.

Oun Bunna said police should broaden their search for illegal im­migrants and not target him.

Speaking by telephone, Oun Bun­na told a reporter that the visit by police frightened his tenants, and they had fled.

When asked to confirm who owned the building at the ad­dress given by police Wednes­day, neighbors on the street asked reporters visiting Oun Bun­na’s house whether they were seeking sex or to rent a room. About 10 of them said that Oun Bunna housed prostitutes.                                    Inside, the second floor was still occupied by men and women playing cards on the hair salon floor. In the third-floor coffee shop, a young man played one of six video gambling machines.

A nervous young man leaving the girls’ quarters corroborated that the girls are prostitutes, but, he said, they offer their services elsewhere.

Oun Bunna said he will as­sume his new post in Kampot next week where he intends to  live full time.


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