Ex-Police Officer Files Corruption Complaint Against Force, Gets Arrested

2 min read
The Anti-Corruption Unit in Phnom Penh. (Michael Coghlan/Creative Commons)

A former Banteay Meanchey provincial police officer has been arrested and sent to court after filing a complaint with the Anti-Corruption Unit accusing the provincial police chief of corruption and threatening behavior.

Sret Sopheak, former chief of staff at the provincial police headquarters, alleged that police chief Sithi Loh had made threatening phone calls, used violence against police officers, and was corrupt.

Sopheak filed his complaint to the ACU on March 18. The provincial police, in turn, issued a statement accusing the complainant of corruption.

In a letter, the police force alleged that Sopheak had defrauded many people, took more than $111,800 to process paperwork, and had previously been brought before the National Police disciplinary council, leading to his termination in 2021.

Sopheak then posted a video on Facebook to apologize. His accusations against the police chief were a misunderstanding, he said.

“What I wrote, what I said really hurt the Banteay Meanchey provincial police commissioner Sithi Loh. So I publicly apologize,” he said in the video clip.

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court spokesperson Samrith Sokhon said on Friday that Sopheak had been arrested and was now being questioned in court. There were two cases against him, the spokesperson said, but would not elaborate further.

Loh, the police chief, denied the accusations against him and said Sopheak was the one who had done wrong.

“Let him sue as long as there is a clear argument and evidence,” Loh said. “We know ourselves for sure, and I did not do what he said. He complained against me because he was angry.”

ACU chair Om Yentieng could not be reached.

Transparency International Cambodia director Pech Pisey asked authorities to investigate the case clearly, including the original complaint.

“If the investigation finds that [Sopheak] faked the information, then it is another thing to take action on,” Pisey said. “But it is very important that we guarantee the rights to raise issues. … The complainant must not be harassed in any way.”

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