Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana has suspended Kompong Speu Provincial Court Prosecutor Kong Set, paving the way for an investigation into his alleged wrongdoings, officials said Wednesday.
According to the minister’s suspension order dated June 15, which was received on Wednesday, the prosecutor’s suspension was “temporary,” and waiting for an additional decision by the Supreme Council, the highest legal body in the land, which monitors the workings of the courts.
Mr Vathana could not be reached for comment, while the Justice Ministry’s Deputy Cabinet Chief Bunyay Narin said that Secretary of State Prom Sedhra would explain the reason for the suspension.
However, when contacted by telephone, Mr Sedhra declined to say exactly why the prosecutor had been suspended, adding only: “complaints came from all over the place.”
Justice Ministry Inspector General So Chanthy, who led the investigation into Mr Set’s alleged wrongdoings, also declined to comment.
However, according to a copy of the Justice Ministry’s findings in the investigation last year, Mr Set faced nine allegations, including the improper release of suspects, engaging in an extortion racket that took money from gasoline vendors on National Road 4 to the tune of $25 to $50 monthly from each vendor, and ordering Environmental Ministry officials to transport 27 cubic meters of illegally logged wood from the Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary for use in the construction of his house.
A woman answering Mr Set’s phone on Wednesday said that the prosecutor was not available for comment.
In the previous interviews on the reports of his wrongdoing, Mr Set strongly denied the allegations, saying that he was targeted for punishment after he had caught Phnom Aural officials involved in illegal logging.
Meas Nhim, former Phnom Aural director and current deputy director at Environment Ministry’s General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection, welcomed Mr Set’s suspension.
“It will help contribute to protecting forests,” Mr Nhim said, adding that it is also justice for the gasoline vendors on National Route 4.