Former Banteay Meanchey police chief Hun Hean, who was released last month on a royal pardon after being sentenced to four years in prison in 2011 for taking bribes from drug dealers, said Tuesday that he has returned to his family farm in his home province.
Hun Hean said that he had not been in contact with his former employers at the Interior Ministry since being released from prison, but would be happy to return to work for the government if asked.
“If the government calls me to go to work with them, I will go, but if the government doesn’t call me back to work, it’s no matter for me. I will decide to farm with the people,” he said, adding that he is in the process of planting 2 hectares of his own rice paddy along with an additional 3 hectares that he has rented from neighbors.
In November 2011, Hun Hean was sentenced to four years in Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison on four counts of taking bribes from drug dealers. He was released along with 116 other prisoners by a royal decree signed by King Norodom Sihamoni on the occasion of the King’s birthday last month.
Hun Hean’s lawyer, Chea Dara, said that since his client was pardoned there was no longer any record against his name, meaning the path is now clear for Hun Hean to return to the civil service.
“I think that when he was pardoned and has not been found guilty of any other crimes, if the state or his [police] unit want him to return to work it is no problem,” Mr. Dara said.
However, Sok Sam Oeun, director of legal aid NGO the Cambodian Defenders Project, said that it was unlikely that Hun Hean would ever return to work in a government position, as a royal pardon does not clear convictions from the released prisoner’s criminal record and most government offices have statutes against hiring convicted criminals.
“Even with a royal pardon, [the crime] is still on his criminal record,” Mr. Sam Oeun said.
(Additional reporting by Colin Meyn)