Prey Sar Guard Sentenced for Helping 12 Escape

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday sentenced a former Prey Sar prison guard to three-and-a-half years in jail for his role in the escape of 12 inmates in June.

Teang Chanthol was convicted of taking bribes and conspiracy to destroy prison property.

Presiding Judge Chhay Kong said that the 24-year-old’s sentence would begin from the date he was first detained, June 16.

On June 11, 2006, 12 inmates escaped from pre-trial detention in the dead of night after allegedly cutting through the bars of their cell window with saws hidden in food, and climbed down using mosquito netting.

Police have recaptured only one of the escapees, and the whereabouts of the others re­mains a mystery.

Among those unaccounted for is former municipal criminal section deputy police chief Hang Vuthy, a close associate of former municipal police chief Heng Pov, who is currently serving an 18-year sentence in Prey Sar.

In September, Hang Vuthy and Heng Pov were both convicted in absentia for killing Judge Sok Sethamony in 2003.

Teang Chanthol told the court that he had accepted about $10 from the aunt of an inmate to deliver a black plastic bag containing fruit and an uncooked pig’s head to the cell.

When asked by Chhay Kong why he delivered the bag to the cell, Teang Chanthol said such things are common at Prey Sar.

Chhay Kong told the courtroom that the saws used to cut the bars were hidden in the pig’s head. Two prison guards testifying at the trial also said the pig’s head had been used to conceal saws. Prison guard Sek Sen told the court that he briefly examined the bag before it was delivered to the inmates.

Teang Chanthol’s lawyer, Nach Try, said that it is not possible to hide saws in a pig’s head, and that if there was any truth to the case, the responsibility should have fallen on the guards who checked the bag and found nothing. “All the prison guards should be charged,” he said.

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