Year-Old Case Of Extortion To Be Investigated

National Military Police Com­man­­der Sao Sokha said Tuesday that al­legations of extortion against mil­itary police in Battambang province, over a motorbike they con­fiscated from a member of the public more than a year ago, will be investigated.

The motorbike was confiscated after its driver was accused of illegally installing a car horn to “terrify the public.”

Sao Sokha’s announcement came on the day that opposition lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang wrote ap­pealing for intervention in the case, in which Eng Chhay Eang claimed that Battambang provincial military police confiscated the motorbike in January 2005 and demanded a $200 bribe for its return.

The officers involved could face disciplinary action, Sao Sokha said, though he added that the family might have gotten the motorbike back sooner had they not adopted such an aggressive attitude.

Sao Sokha said he has forwarded the letter to the military police’s in­spection office, and said an investigatory committee will be dispatched to Battambang to investigate the allegations.

Military police have been working hard in Battambang to combat gangsters on the orders of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Sao Sokha noted.

Suon Bunheng, 20, said he was driving the motorbike in question on the night of Jan 12, 2005, when he was arrested and the bike was confiscated in Battambang provincial town.

He was taken to the military police headquarters and accused of terrifying town residents with the horn. He was released later, but his motorcycle was held.

Im Dara, deputy commander of Battambang military police, denied the allegations against his men.

He said that Suon Bunheng’s relatives have tried to frame his officers, who he said are working hard to maintain public order in Battam­bang. “It was just an accusation,” he said, adding that public servants can’t satisfy everyone.

In his letter to Sao Sokha, Eng Chhay Eang called for tough action to be taken against the officials in question.

“The measure of competent military police in Battambang province in apprehending this motor­bike …was beyond orders and violated the law,” he wrote.

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