Inmate Denies Having Sex With R’kiri Prison Chief, Official Says

The chief of the Ratanakkiri Provincial Prison remained in his position last week as Interior Ministry officials concluded their initial investigation into claims that he had sex with an inmate and abused his power for personal profit, officials said on Monday.

A five-day investigation into Tin Sovanna was opened after prison officials filed a complaint to the Interior Ministry’s general department of prisons on December 6 accusing the prison chief of having sex with an inmate, regularly making convicts clean his house and pocketing money from sales of fishing nets woven by prisoners.

San Keo, spokesman for the general department of prisons, said the results of the initial investigation, which concluded on Friday, would soon be sent to Interior Minister Sar Kheng.

However, the inmate who accused the prison chief of having sex with her retracted her claims under questioning by Interior Ministry officials, Mr. Keo said.

“Regarding the accusation that he slept with an inmate, the working group asked the inmate, and she denied what they accused her of,” he said.

During the investigation, Mr. Sovanna continued to run the prison where all of the complainants are either employed or incarcerated, Mr. Keo added.

“[Mr. Sovanna] came to work normally because he was [only] under primary investigation,” he said, adding that the prison chief has denied all of the accusations against him.

Marc Borg, a prison consultant for rights group Licadho, said he had heard that the female inmate at the center of the complaint was brought to Phnom Penh during the investigation. He added, however, that the prison chief should have been suspended pending the probe.

“I think it would have been typical to at least temporarily suspend him while the investigation is going on,” Mr. Borg said.

(Additional reporting by George Wright)

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