Interior Minister Sar Kheng has temporarily suspended a provincial police official for an unpublicized offense, after the officer was flagged for investigation and then cleared by the Anti-Corruption Unit last year.
Kandal province deputy police chief Sreng Sokha was suspended on Tuesday, according to an Interior Ministry statement, but he was ordered to show up at the ministry office in Phnom Penh every work day until further notice.
The statement noted that the decision came at the request of the National Police.
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said Sokha was suspended over an unspecified offense following an Interior Ministry investigation.
“If the officer had not committed any wrongdoing, he would not have been suspended,” Khim Khoeun told VOD. “It means that he made a mistake related to improper implementation of the National Police force’s 006 order,” he said, without specifying the alleged wrongdoing.
Declaration No. 006 on the Discipline of the National Police Forces outlines sanctions and disciplinary procedures pertaining to police officer misconduct.
Sokha could not be reached for comment, and Interior Ministry officials Khieu Sopheak and Men Bunrith also could not be reached. However, Sopheak told Thmey Thmey on Wednesday that the deputy chief had grabbed more than 40 hectares of land for his personal use and signed for the land under former provincial governor Mao Phirun’s name.
In February 2019, the ACU opened an investigation into Sokha after a widely-shared article claimed he had proposed to a woman, offering a dowry of $100,000 in cash, a diamond ring and a Lexus worth $200,000. Several months later, ACU head Om Yentieng said investigators failed to find any evidence of corruption behind the deputy chief’s apparent wealth.
However, San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, suggested that even if the ACU had closed its investigation, Sokha’s suspension might still be related to corruption.
“If there is corruption, the anti-corruption law should have been used but recently, there are five approaches,” Chey said, referring to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s five allegorical methods for combating corruption: look in the mirror, take a bath, clean one’s body, receive treatment and undergo surgery.
“So, this staffer who had shown off his wealth in the past could have been removed by using one of the other approaches,” Chey said.
(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)