Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged a two-star RCAF general on Friday for his alleged involvement in an illegal Kompong Speu province drug laboratory where tons of chemicals were found during a high-profile police raid in April, officials said.
Major General Chum Tong Heng, 52, was arrested by police with the National Authority for Combating Drugs on Thursday evening in Phnom Penh and charged on Friday with colluding in drug production by the municipal court, Prosecutor Ouk Savuth said Sunday.
Ouk Savuth declined to comment further because the case is still under investigation.
RCAF Commander-in-Chief Ke Kim Yan declined to comment on the case Monday, other than to say that the NACD and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court informed the Defense Ministry before arresting Chum Tong Heng. Officials declined to reveal what political affiliations Chum Tong Heng may have.
On April 1, police arrested 18 people during raids in Phnom Penh and Kompong Speu, confiscating over four tons of chemicals that authorities said were to be used to manufacture methamphetamines.
No actual drugs were found during the raid, and the families of the 14 Cambodians arrested claim the suspects, who were hired on the understanding that they would be spraying chemicals on the land, had only been at the Kompong Speu laboratory site for one hour before the police raided.
The US Drug Enforcement Agency assisted the NACD in identifying the chemicals retrieved from the lab, but US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said Monday he was uncertain whether the DEA was still working on the case and declined comment on the arrest.
Lars Pederson, lead project manager for the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, said he did not have enough information to comment on the arrest. But he added that he expected the cleanup of the dangerous chemicals at the site, in which his office is assisting, to be completed before the end of July.
(Additional reporting by James Welsh)