Svay Rieng provincial police Thursday publicly defended a district police official accused of corruption after conducting their own investigation into the claims.
According to a report published by the local news website CEN on April 7, Svay Chrum district deputy police chief Meas Soeun embezzled money intended for about 100 district police officers on two separate occasions.
The article said that the wronged police officers urged provincial police chief Koeng Khorn to investigate Mr. Soeun, because he had been siphoning off $10 from each of their salaries after they were promoted and received raises in February, and a further $2 from each officer at an unspecified time.
“This case is just a baseless allegation,” said a letter posted to the National Police website Thursday and signed by deputy provincial police chief Colonel Khiev Sokhom.
“After the article was posted online, provincial expert police …cooperated with district expert police to conduct an investigation and found nothing. The case of deducting 8,000 riel [from police officers’ salaries] doesn’t exist,” it said.
The letter went on to explain that each police officer in Svay Chrum district voluntarily donates 3,500 riel, or about 90 cents, to the Police Friendship Association on a monthly basis.
It said only 62 officers had received raises, not 100, and that “the deduction of 40,000 riel [about $10] worth of promotion raises did not happen.”
Mr. Soeun also had nothing to do with paying salaries, it added.
It is not clear if the allegations were brought before the Anti-Corruption Unit, where officials could not be reached.
Last month, however, the ACU arrested two former Banteay Meas district police chiefs in Kampot province for embezzling more than $64,360 since 2008. The pair is being held in pretrial detention, charged with seven counts of corruption.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, said the ACU should take these fresh claims seriously and conduct its own investigation.
“For cases where the police are allegedly involved in embezzlement, there should be an independent body—or at least the ACU—to conduct an investigation and make sure there is transparency in their findings,” he said.