Kandal Provincial Court Jails Prison Officer Over Alleged Fraud

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A new prison building on the Prey Sar prison compound in Phnom Penh following its completion in November 2019. (Supplied)

A prison officer in Kandal province has been provisionally detained — in the same prison where he works — over allegedly taking a bribe to speed up the release of a prisoner.

Nuth Savna, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry’s prisons department, said the officer, Tong Dara, had taken money from a prisoner’s relatives to process the inmate’s release but failed.

Dara was then asked by the relatives to refund their money, but would not do so, Savna said.

“There is no regulation stating that prison officials have the right to undertake such a process,” Savna said.

It was not Dara’s role or responsibility, he said, but added that such cases were hard to prevent because they are done secretly.

“If he is found to have commited [the actions] as charged, he violated the law,” Savna said.

Kandal provincial prison chief Chab Sineang characterized the alleged crime as a “debt” Dara refused to repay, and would not say whether it was a bribe.

“The prosecutor asked me to help find a compromise and talk to him. If he owed [money to the prisoner] … just pay it back,” Sineang said.

Dara was deputy chief of the prison’s security office, and would be fired if found guilty, Sineang said.

The prisons officials said they didn’t know how much money was allegedly given to Dara.

Provincial court spokesperson Tin Sochetra said Dara had been charged with fraud and sent to pretrial detention.

Sochetra added that the complaint had been filed in May last year.

A fraud conviction is punishable by six months to three years in prison and a fine of 1 million to 6 million riel, or $250 to $1,500.

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