As the lengthy trial of the country’s former anti-drug chief Moek Dara and two of his subordinates wrapped up on Friday at Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court, Mr. Dara cheered the release of a document showing he has just $80,000 in the bank—a fraction of the amount he is accused of collecting in bribes from drug dealers.
“The Anti-Corruption Unit said yesterday they found only $80,000 in his bank account and at a number of [property] estates,” said Nop Virak, who is monitoring the trial for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR).
“Mr. Dara expressed pleasure and joy because he claimed that the ACU’s findings gave him justice.”
At the time of his arrest in January, ACU officials said they believed Mr. Dara had stashed away millions of dollars in bribes from drug traffickers in exchange for falsifying police reports to either lessen charges against drug suspects or avoid charges entirely.
Team Chanpiseth, one of the three judges hearing the case, said that the ACU had accounted for all the cash found in Mr. Dara’s bank account, which was deposited between 2007 and 2011. They also said that all the real estate and other property he owned had been accounted for.
“They found $80,000 in his bank account and some real estate, including homes and land,” said Mr. Chanpiseth, who declined to say how many homes the ex-police chief owned, or how much real estate was discovered.
Mr. Dara’s lawyers asked the court on Friday to allow his client’s children to be granted the right to monitor all bank transactions on Mr. Dara’s behalf-a suggestion that had not yet been approved by the court as of Friday evening.
During the earlier part of the hearing, the court heard the last two of 32 charges against Mr. Dara, anti-drug officer Chea Leang, and at-large suspect Morn Doeun.
Mr. Dara responded to the last charges with customary vigorous denials.
Both cases involved falsifying police reports to lessen the crimes of drug traffickers in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars, according to the indictment.
The case against the country’s former anti-drug police chief and his underlings, which was brought to court by the ACU, marks one of the largest in Cambodia’s history.
Scores of witnesses ranging from convicted drug traffickers up to the country’s senior police officials, were interviewed as part of a 41-page indictment that ultimately compiled 38 counts against the men.
Calling the case a “historic event,” CCHR’s court monitor Mr. Virak said that the trial highlighted grave weaknesses within the country’s police force.
“We have noticed there is a critical weakness of the judicial police regarding the practical implementation of their jobs,” said Mr. Virak, adding that every one of the police officers who testified against Mr. Dara and his co-conspirators knew of their superiors’ illegal dealings at the time the crimes occurred, but they kept quiet. More than 140 witnesses, most of them judicial police officers, testified of what they knew of Mr Dara’s alleged crime syndicate, during the 12 days of hearings.
Closing statements will be heard December 19, and a verdict is expected to be issued in January.