The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has charged and detained the provincial prison director and two guards because the trio allegedly accepted bribes to enable the escape of seven prisoners last week.
Provincial Deputy Prosecutor Thol Kimhung said Tuesday that on May 1 he charged Preah Vihear Provincial Director Sar Saing and guards Moul Vorn and Chhum Rithy with bribery for allegedly abetting the jailbreak of seven prisoners, four of whom were convicted of serious crimes, such as murder and rape.
The seven prisoners escaped the prison on the night of April 30, and the three prison officials were arrested and charged the next day.
The April 30 jailbreak was the second at the prison this year—in February four prisoners convicted of rape and murder also escaped. At that time, then-prison director Krouch Bundel was removed and replaced by Mr Sar Saing.
“I have charged them with bribery to release the convicts,” Mr Thol Kimhung said. He added that the three officials are now being detained in the Kompong Thom provincial prison instead of Preah Vihear prison.
Mr Thol Kimhung said that police believed that the seven escaped prisoners are hiding in Kompong Thom province.
“I have issued warrants to arrest them,” he added.
Ministry of Interior Prison Department General Director Heng Hak said Tuesday that his office has not yet conducted a full investigation of the jailbreak, and he was uncertain what had occurred.
“I will dispatch inspectors to the province to investigate,” he said.
The prison’s deputy director, Ros Chanthy, said by telephone Tuesday that he was not sure whether his boss had accepted bribes, but in general the jailbreak appeared to be caused by carelessness.
Adhoc provincial coordinator Hor Neath said an investigation by his organization showed that the seven prisoners were staying in one cell. They apparently hid a saw, and when the prison turned out the electricity at night, they sawed through the cell bars and escaped through the prison’s front gate at about 9 pm.
“It was the prison’s carelessness that the main gate was open after dark,” he said.