Two Pursat Officials Charged With Corruption

The Pursat Provincial Court charged two local officials at the veterans and social affairs department with corruption on Saturday for demanding bribes to disperse state grants owed to families of dead veterans for funeral expenses.

Provincial court investigating Judge Pech Chenda said the suspects—Yoem Deth, a bureau chief for the province’s veterans and social affairs department, and Kong Visal, another provincial veterans and social affairs official—are now in pretrial detention at the provincial prison.

“We decided to place the two veterans and social affairs officials involved in corruption in custody,” Mr. Chenda said on Sunday, explaining that the case was brought about by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) and that the suspects had been charged with articles 592 and 593 of the Crim­inal Code.

Article 592 covers the misappropriation of public funds by public officials and Article 593 stipulates a prison sentence of between two and five years and a fine of up to 10 million riel (about $2,500).

“According to the ACU report, for a veteran’s funeral, they give 4 million riel [about $1,000], but the officials demanded $50 as commission from each family when they came to get the money,” Mr. Chenda said.

He said he did not know how many families the two suspects demanded the bribes from, or how much they collected in total.

Provincial governor, Khoy Sokha, and officials at the ACU could not be reached for comment.

Provincial court prosecutor Tan Seihak Dechak said Mr. Deth, Mr. Visal and another man, Kong Bunthan, a veterans and social affairs official in Bakan district, were all arrested by provincial police on Thursday.

But he said Mr. Bunthan was released on Saturday after investigators decided that he was not involved.

“The court detained two social affairs department officials after questioning but released Kong Bunthan because he wasn’t involved in this case,” he said.

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