National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy told the Phnom Penh Municipal Police annual meeting on Wednesday that they must take action against the wayward sons of high-ranking officials and claimed that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew, Nhim Sophea, was still in prison.
Hok Lundy’s comments contradict revelations late last month that Nhim Sophea, 24, was freed from prison after being cleared in August of all charges related to an Oct 2003 car crash that killed one man and the subsequent gunning down of two innocent passersby.
The secretive Appeals Court hearing and release from prison of Nhim Sophea—just five months after he was found guilty of unintentional manslaughter for the crime—was met with incredulity by human rights activists and the lawyers and relatives of the victims.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Hok Lundy praised the prosecution and what he said was the continued imprisonment of Nhim Sophea in an address to more than 250 police officials who gathered at Municipal Police Headquarters.
“Some days ago Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke again about his nephew. Now [Nhim Sophea] is still in jail because he was drunk and sprayed bullets killing some people and injuring some people,” Hok Lundy said.
“So how can he can escape from the law?” he said
“[Hun Sen] praised the police and court who dared arrest his nephew who did wrong. If his nephew is wrong and [Hun Sen] supports him, how can he lead the country?” Hok Lundy asked.
Hok Lundy also said he would ask Hun Sen to send a letter to other government officials warning them to rein in their sons or face similar legal consequences as Nhim Sophea.
“Phnom Penh has the most big brothers [gangsters] who are usually sons of high ranking officials, Oknhas and ministers. Police could crack down on them, but we do not,” Hok Lundy said.
Noting that some criminals may have acquired weapons from their powerful fathers, Hok Lundy said that police should also prosecute parents for allowing their weapons to fall into the wrong hands.
“We should start to convict them [high-ranking parents]. In the past we did not,” he said.
Unlike previous years, the Municipal Police did not publicly release their crime statistics for 2004. But according to several pages of the report which were obtained on Wednesday, serious crime appears to have abated substantially in Phnom Penh in 2004. The report said there were 992 serious crimes in 2003 and 802 crime last year.