A former Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) soldier charged with running an illegal cockfighting and gambling ring was Thursday sentenced to one year in prison by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Tuy Pha, 46, was arrested by police on January 18 while hosting a cockfighting and gambling gathering on a plot of land he was paid to guard in Sen Sok district.
Police confiscated dice, playing cards and six fighting cocks. Mr. Pha was wearing his RCAF uniform at the time.
“Mr. Pha used his position in RCAF to open an illegal gambling establishment,” Judge Suos Sam Ath told the court Thursday.
Judge Sam Ath fined Mr. Pha five million riel, or about $1,250, and handed down a one-year prison sentence, with nine months suspended.
Mr. Pha was previously arrested for playing host to cockfights and gamblers on the plot of land in Toek Thla commune in August last year.
Mr. Pha was released on that occasion and claimed in court Thursday that since the prior arrest, he had bred six fighting cocks for sale but had not gambled or engaged his cocks in bouts.
“I had to stop the gambling after the police arrested me the first time,” he said.
Phnom Penh police on Monday broke up an illegal cockfighting event in Daun Penh district, arresting more than 15 people. Ten were found to have been gambling, but were educated and released.
The owner of the house where the cockfights took place and the dealer in charge of the gambling were charged and will face court.
General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said Thursday that there was no edict from above for police to focus on illegal gambling or cockfighting, but said some operators have simply run out of warnings.
“Police generally come one or two times and issue a warning, but sometimes, if they don’t stop, we have to eradicate them by sending them to court,” Gen. Sopheak said.
“They call cockfighting a sport but cockfighting is gambling, and gambling is illegal.”