The Interior Ministry concluded its investigation into claims of widespread corruption by the Kompong Thom provincial police chief by deciding to punish both the accusers and the accused, according to a report submitted by the ministry to the National Police.
“I wish to state that the complainants and the accused persons will receive the same punishment because they committed the same wrongs,” said Pen Vibol, director of the ministry’s personnel department.
Investigations into Chou Sam An, chief of police in Kompong Thom, began after six of his subordinates submitted a complaint last month accusing him of demanding cash for promotions, with sums ranging between $500 and $7,000. Two of his subordinates, Ith Kimsrun and Kheav Channy, were also accused.
That complaint was deemed to be unsubstantiated, but another investigation followed when an earlier complaint surfaced, again alleging that Major General Sam An was corrupt in his promotions and appointments.
The final report sent by the ministry to the National Police on Friday says that six officers involved in filing the complaints will be “disciplined,” three will be removed from their positions and two will go into retirement.
The report does not say which officers will receive which punishments. Mr. Vibol said that both Mr. Kimsrun and Mr. Channy would be punished, but did not say how. Neither the report nor Mr. Vibol specified the fate of Maj. Gen. Sam An though Mr. Vibol remarked earlier this month that, at 59, he could soon retire.
Mr. Vibol did not clarify yesterday what he meant when he said the accusers and the accused committed “the same wrongs.” However, Maj. Gen. Sam An’s subordinates would be punished, he said, because some just followed their friends in filing the complaint without finding out if the claims were true.
“It is not only the provincial police chief who will be punished, but we also found many people are guilty and they will also be disciplined and be removed from their positions,” he said. “We have assigned punishments for those police officials who put their thumbprints on a complaint against the provincial police chief, but didn’t have evidence.”
While Mr. Vibol had previously said that he suspected Maj. Gen. Sam An did take bribes, given discrepancies in how he promoted officers, yesterday he said that the issues were due to unintentional procedural irregularities.
“We did not find evidence to prove that provincial police collected money from police officials for promotions, but our inspectors have found that the police chief appointed some officers contrary to procedure,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Sam An said his mistake was that he signed documents too hastily, and his jealous subordinates were trying to topple him without good reason.
“I did not check [the document] clearly, as I trust my subordinates, but they tricked me,” he said. “They changed the names and replaced them with new people.”