The police chief and deputy police chief of Kampot province’s Banteay Meas district appeared before the provincial court Monday for the first day of their corruption trial, their lawyers said.
In March, the government’s Anti-Corruption Unit arrested Srun Lam, the district police chief, and Mok Huot, his deputy, on suspicion of embezzling money over the past five years that was intended to pay the salaries and bonuses of subordinates.
Mr. Lam’s lawyer, Pov Sreysour, said his client was charged with misappropriating public funds, concealing evidence, interfering with the work of authorities and the unlawful use of an illegal weapon.
Mr. Sreysour said his client admitted to the court that he embezzled the money from his underlings.
“He confessed,” Mr. Sreysour said, but explained that Mr. Lam also considered himself the victim of an elaborate scam.
According to Mr. Sreysour, Mr. Lam took the money to give to a man falsely representing himself as an official with the National Police Commissariat who had offered him a promotion in exchange for the cash.
Ou Vuth, the lawyer representing Mr. Huot, said his client faced the same charges but was denying the embezzlement claims, which he said amounted to about $11,700 in total.
“My client said he didn’t commit what they charged him with,” he said. “He just did everything that his boss ordered.”
Mr. Vuth added that 45 police are named as witnesses to the corruption trial and that 12 are plaintiffs.
Deputy prosecutor Khey Samphors declined to comment.
Mam Kesey, a provincial monitor for rights group Licadho, praised authorities for pursuing the case.
“It’s good to put these two policeman on trial for corruption and it’s an example to other police officials who have the intention to commit cases of corruption,” he said.
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