Military Prosecutors Demand Leader’s Ouster, Allege Graft

Forty-one military prosecutors have signed a petition demanding their leader be thrown out of a job because of alleged corruption.

The prosecutors put their thumbprints and signatures on a document sent to the Ministry of Defense accusing Military Prose­cution Department Presi­dent Sao Sok of graft and heavy-handed rule. The prosecutors demanded that Sao Sok be fired.

Lieutenant Colonel Un Sophal, one of the petitioners, accused Sao Sok of skimming promised bonuses, Red Cross donations and food allotment money for former Khmer Rouge soldiers, charging his employees tribute to support the CPP, having more bodyguards than the ministry has authorized and of stealing from the government in a land deal—pocketing both profits and part of the land.

The 10 bodyguards have hurt the department, especially with regard to their most important task: Guarding Khmer Rouge prisoners Ta Mok and Duch, the lieutenant colonel said.

“We only have 40 soldiers in the department. When he took 10 of them, we didn’t have many people who look after the two Khmer Rouge leaders. That’s why we’ve also had to work long­er hours—to guard them,” he said.

Co-Minister of Defense Prince Sisowath Sirirath said Monday he is still considering what to do with the soldiers’ petitions. He said that Sao Sok has denied the allegations.

“He said he was a strict mana­ger,” the prince said.

Sao Sok refused to answer when asked about his employees’ charges, saying he considered the matter closed. “The [Ministry of] Defense has already resolved the problem,” he said.

There is no more room left for compromise on the matter, Un Sophal said. “If the Ministry of Defense doesn’t remove Sao Sok, they should please remove the 41 people out of the department,” he said. “If there’s no place for us to work, we can work und­er the shade of a tree and wait to draw salaries.”

 

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