Official in Bribe Case Drops Extortion Charge

A Kandal provincial court clerk, who was arrested last week, was released Tuesday after he wrote a letter of apology to Secretary of State Chea Rotha of the Min­istry of Water Resources and Mete­or­ology, prompting her to drop her extortion complaint against him, a court official said.

Court Clerk Chea Bunleang, who was questioned at the Phnom Penh court Tuesday, was released without charge, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Khut Sopheang said.

“This case is finished,” he said.

Chea Bunleang was arrested Friday, accused of demanding $2,000 from Chea Rotha in ex­change for invalidating a warrant for her arrest stemming from charges that she accepted almost $10,000 in bribes in connection with a fishing lot.

A copy of Chea Bunleang’s letter to Chea Rotha read: “My ac­tions marred your reputation and honor, and I would like you to forgive my wrongdoing in the past.”

Chea Rotha, who has denied the charges of accepting bribes, confirmed Tuesday that she dropped her complaint.

“I warned [Chea Bunleang] to stop extorting money from defendants,” she said.

But she added: “I also agreed to give $2000 to him, because he asked me for help. He said his family is poor, and his children are sick.”

Kandal chief prosecutor Chheng Phat defended the court clerk on Tuesday, saying he did noth­ing wrong. But, Chheng Phat said: “It’s as if they beat him until he cried and then gave him a cake to eat.”

Lao Mong Hay, legal adviser at the Center for Social Devel­op­ment, encouraged further po­lice investigation of Chea Bun­leang.

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