‘Editor’ Charged With Extortion by Graft Unit

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Saturday charged a newspaper editor with blackmail for al­legedly attempting to extort money from the Banteay Mean­chey Provincial Court president.

According to municipal deputy prosecutor Heang Sopheak, Praloeng Khmer editor-in-chief Prom Seyha, 42, was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Unit on Thursday, a few days after al­legedly demanding money from Banteay Meanchey Provin­cial Court president Judge Ang Mealtey in exchange for not publishing a defamatory story about him.

“If he is found guilty, he will serve two to five years in jail and pay between 4 and 10 million riel as a fine,” Mr Sopheak said yesterday.

Judge Mealtey confirmed re­ceiving a call from Mr Seyha demanding money a few days before the arrest but declined to give many details.

“He threatened to defame me,” he said. “We can say that he wan­ted to extort money because at the end of the conversation it came to the amount of money,” he added, declining to explain further.

Sok Sovan, head of the Press Council of Cambodia, said yesterday that he suspected Mr Seyha of suffering from mental illness and that, though he has officially been editor-in-chief of his paper for the past two to three years, Mr Seyha had never published a single issue.

“He has had [the newspaper] for several years, but he has ne­ver had his newspaper published,” he said.

Mr Seyha’s arrest follows the arrest of several police officials in or from Banteay Meanchey pro­vince within the past month stemming from the ACU’s investigation into an alleged drug ring.

Mr Sopheak of the municipal court said Mr Seyha’s arrest had nothing to do with the drug cases.

ACU officials could not be reached for comment.

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