Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday questioned two former advisers and a former Cabinet member of Senate President Chea Sim following their arrest for document forgery, court and military police officials said.
Police Lieutenant General Chan Kosal, 60, a former adviser to Mr Sim, as well as former Cabinet member Khieu Bora, 50, were arrested Friday, while Lieutenant General Ponlork Ho, 58, also a former adviser to the Senate and CPP president, was arrested Sunday, National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said.
“All of them were arrested for their involvement in document forgery and using forged documents,” Mr Tito said, adding that Lt Gen Kosal is also the director of Koy Sambath Cambodia Import, Export and Construction Co, Ltd.
Mr Tito declined to provide further details on the arrests or the alleged crime.
Pong Savrith, deputy commander of the municipal military police, said the court questioned the three suspects, but they had yet to be formally charged.
“All of them are not yet charged, because the court did not finish questioning them [yesterday],” Mr Savrith said, adding that the three are currently in the custody of the municipal military police.
Heng Kunthea Borey, Mr Sim’s protocol chief, said she was unaware of the arrests, but added that Lt Gen Kosal was not an adviser to Mr Sim.
Lieutenant General Yim Leang, the recently appointed chief of Mr Sim’s bodyguard unit, said that he was unaware of the arrests, but noted that Lt Gen Kosal and Lt Gen Ho were removed from their positions before they were arrested.
“Chan Kosal and Ponlork Ho are former Chea Sim advisers. They were removed as Chea Sim’s advisers already, but I don’t remember the date,” he said, declining to comment further.
Though biographical details on the three was unavailable yesterday, two of the suspects, Lt Gen Kosal and Lt Gen Ho, are given prominent reference on the website of Malaysian businessman Armin Baniaz Pahamin, who describes them as well-connected police officials who were helping facilitate what appeared to be the opening of a Malaysian-backed business in Cambodia.
According to the website, both police generals, whose links to Mr Sim are emphasized by Mr Baniaz Pahamin on his blog postings, made trips to Malaysia in the past year, and Lt Gen Kosal introduced the Malaysian businessman—who owns a car dealership—to Mr Sim and Ms Kunthea Borey in Phnom Penh in 2010.
Mr Baniaz Pahamin did not respond to a request for comment.
This is the second time in less than two months that senior officials linked to Mr Sim have been arrested.
On Aug 13, Lieutenant General Chhoeun Chanthan, the former chief of Mr Sim’s bodyguard unit, was arrested and charged with illegal weapon possession and forgery. Lt Gen Chanthan is being held at the Military Court ahead of his trial.
(Additional reporting by James Welsh)