Fourteen Arrested, Officer Summoned in Cockfighting Raids

Fourteen people are in custody after police closed down an illegal cockfighting ring in Phnom Penh, while a municipal police officer was summoned on Monday for questioning about his alleged role as the head of a separate cockfighting ring.

In a combined operation by Sen Sok district police and Toek Thla commune police, officers raided a premise in Toek Thla on Sunday and arrested 14 people: a man renting his land to host cockfights, a woman and three men placing bets, and nine owners of cocks allegedly used for fighting.

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Suspects arrested during a police raid on an illegal cockfighting ring in Phnom Penh line up with their cocks on Sunday. (Fresh News)

“This location was open for a few weeks and we arrested them when they were cockfighting,” said Sok Sophal, commune police chief.

The 14 remained in district police custody and were to be sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today or Wednesday, Mr. Sophal said.

In a separate case, a Phnom Penh police officer is facing punishment after threatening fellow officers who tried to shut down a cockfighting ring he allegedly ran.

Kheng Sokha, an economic police officer, blocked 20 officers from entering the site in Kompong Speu province last week and reportedly threatened them by saying he had an AK-47 assault rifle in his car. About 60 people fled the scene after police fired two warning shots into the air.

The showdown ended when police left without making any arrests. Photographs and video footage of the incident were later posted by the National Police on its blog and Facebook page.

Mr. Sokha was suspended from duty and now faces questioning by the Ministry of Interior.

Pen Vibol, head of the ministry’s personnel department, said he would send a letter summoning the officer to explain his actions. Mr. Sokha must report to the personnel department within seven days, he said.

Officers can be punished in three ways, depending on the severity of their violation, Mr. Vibol said. If the crime is deemed minor, Mr. Sokha, a captain, may only face suspension, but if his crime is considered serious, the department may either remove stripes denoting rank from his uniform or confiscate his firearms.

“His activity violated police rule or duty, so there will be a punishment,” Mr. Vibol said.

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