Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bribe ‘secured trafficker’s release’

111202_05
In the expected second to last day of the corruption trial against former anti-drug czar Moek Dara, Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court heard allegations yesterday that he and his subordinates elicited bribes totalling more than US$250,000 from drug dealers in five different cases. 

Deputy provincial prosecutor Phann Vanarath said yesterday a $140,000 bribe was paid to Moek Dara and his underlings to secure the release of a drug trafficker, his cache of drugs and property after a raid on the Hollywood Club in Banteay Meanchey’s Poipet town on October 9, 2009.

Banteay Meanchey province’s former police and deputy police chiefs Hun Hean and Cheang Son as well as former anti-drug police official Morn Doeun were alleged to have all profited from the bribe. 

All three have already been sentenced to jail terms ranging from three to four years, though Morn Doeun remains free after escaping from detention. 

Nop Vireak, a monitor for the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights who attended the trial, said Moek Dara, Hun Hean and Cheang Son all denied the allegations against them yesterday. 

“Moek Dara said that he was not involved with that money and that if he was involved he would not have written a letter to Banteay Meanchey provincial court calling for a rehearing on suspected drug traffickers who were sentenced to two years in prison.”

Proceedings in five of the 32 charges against Moek Dara commenced yesterday. 

The court also heard that the four police officials received a $120,000 bribe to release another drug trafficker and in another case pocketed 1,855 pills of yama, a form of methamphetamine, during a raid on the Baly Ley pagoda in Banteay Meanchey province in which no one was arrested.

Nop Vireak said Phann Vanarath told the court Morn Doeun’s wife had submitted a confession from her husband in which he discussed how money from one bribe was divided among the four men. 

Phann Vanarath said yesterday the case against Moek Dara would finish today with a verdict likely by January or December. 

Soum Chankea, Banteay Meanchey provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the trial sent a good message to other corrupt high-level officials, but questioned whether the court was motivated purely by justice. 

“The court is trying to find justice for the victims, but I don’t know whether this court will provide the justice to the victims or not because in this hearing the court seems to get pressure from someone,” Soum Chankea said.  

Moek Dara faces a life sentence if found guilty of some of the charges against him.