Battambang province’s deputy judicial police chief on Monday came to the defense of five of his anti-drug trafficking police officers currently under investigation for extorting thousands of dollars from people they have arrested.
“My officers are innocent,” Chea Thaun said. “Whatever they have done during arrests, wherever they have been to work, they got orders from the boss.”
The officers under investigation by the Battambang Provincial Court—Sok Yim, Soy Bunthoeun, Sok Bora and two others identified only as Nal and Run—are suspected of making false arrests in two separate incidents in late June and early September and demanding a total of $2,300 from their captives.
Chea Thaun said the five were summoned to National Police headquarters in Phnom Penh last week over the accusations. He declined to provide further details on that summons.
Calls made to Hok Lundy, director general of the National Police, were unsuccessful Monday.
The probe into the five officers’ conduct was prompted by a court complaint filed last month by the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee.
According to a letter from the group, three of the officers forced a woman, Bo Vuoch, 39, to pay about $605 and testify against another person for drug dealing after they arrested her June 29. She was later released for lack of evidence. The officers also arrested Kim Peou, 35, on Sept 1 and forced him to pay about $1,695 for his release, the letter said.
On Monday, Chea Thaun said police always have witness reports and sufficient evidence before making arrests. He added that amphetamine pills are often confiscated at the scene.
“All confiscated drugs are always sent to court to keep as evidence. Thus police have no drugs on hand to plant them in other people’s houses and accuse innocent people for their own interests,” he said.