National Police Director General Hok Lundy said Tuesday that government officials found to be involved in a racket trafficking Chinese nationals through Cambodia will be sent to prison.
“If the investigation finds anyone involved in smuggling illegal immigrants, they will not only be suspended [from their jobs] but will be punished by the law. I will send them to court,” the powerful police general said.
Hok Lundy said suspects have been identified.
“I have suspects but I cannot tell the press,” he said. “We are still investigating them so if I disclose their names it will cause problems with investigation.”
More than 470 Chinese nationals have been arrested in the capital in the past two months in three separate busts, in the most decisive action authorities have ever taken against the lucrative business. However, no arrests have been made and investigators claim to not know who oversees the racket.
The most recent mass arrest came Saturday, when 226 Chinese nationals suspected of not having proper travel documents were taken into custody from two villas in Russei Keo district. Authorities have identified the owners of the two homes as an RCAF colonel and a member of the National Police.
The 226 suspects remain in detention, though police said Tuesday it is unclear if any have legal documentation.
Additionally, Hok Lundy confirmed Tuesday that he personally suspended three immigration police officers for negligence that allowed two fires to break out at Immigration Police headquarters near Pochentong Airport. Documents were lost in the first fire, Aug 23. A second fire on Sept 9 did no significant damage. Authorities said they have determined both cases were arson.
“I am the director general of National Police and they are police officers also. I suspended them because they are incompetent and did not care enough to protect their offices…. I did not order their suspension, I suspended them myself,” said Hok Lundy.
Major Long Viphy, chief of immigration police at Pochentong Airport, confirmed Tuesday that three members of the immigration police were suspended in late September because of the fires: Kong Saran, chief of investigation bureau; Ith Chetana, chief of investigation techniques; and Brak Samnang, a senior border police officer based at Pochentong.
However, Long Viphy said he did not suspect the three were involved in starting the fires. “I do not think these men were involved because they are gentlemen and have served the police since 1979,” said Long Viphy.
Leading the investigation into both fires for the Ministry of Interior, General Sau Phan said Monday that investigators from Electricite Du Cambodge proved the first fire was set deliberately but those behind the fires have not been found.
“The results said that the building was burned down by people not by electricity. However, this [finding] is not 100 percent because the electric wires were destroyed,” said Sau Phan.
Sau Phan said also there was no evidence linking the three suspended Immigration Police officials to the fires.
“If I find any evidence that they burned down the building they would be punished, but I think they are not the arsonists,” said Sau Phan.
Another longtime Ministry of Interior official said Tuesday that calls by government officials to widen the investigation to Cambodian ringleaders was designed only to appease international opinion, not thwart the racket.
“This is what they say,” said the official, who spoke on the condition that he would not be identified. “They will not arrest any of the powerful leaders. But they will do this [make statements] to make the government look strong for the international community,”
According to the official, the government will not denounce high-ranking officials were are involved as it would cause dangerous rifts and weaken the strength of the ruling CPP party.
“They cannot do this. Saying they will arrest [the officials involved] is just government propaganda,” the official asserted.