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Major Drug Trial Opens for Former Anti-Trafficking Chief

  • Chun Sakada
  • VOA Khmer

Cambodian officers burn nearly three tones of various drug making substances, which were seized in raids, in early 2009, in eastern and southern Cambodia.

Cambodian officers burn nearly three tones of various drug making substances, which were seized in raids, in early 2009, in eastern and southern Cambodia.

A high-profile trial for the former head of the Cambodian anti-drug unit began in Banteay Meanchey province on Thursday, in what rights observers said could signal a warning to other corrupt officials.

Moek Dara, the former secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, faces life imprisonment on charges related to alleged drug trafficking and bribery between 2007 and 2011.

Moek Dara and a subordinate, Chea Leng, are facing 38 counts of trafficking and bribery, following their arrest in January. A third suspect and former official from the same office, Morm Doeun, remains at large.

Nearly 100 armed security forces were deployed around the provincial courthouse as the hearing began, in a trial that involves at least 120 witnesses, among them 37 police officers and 83 prisoners.

Om Yentieng, the chief of the government’s Anti-Corruption Unit, said convictions on even two of the 38 counts could mean a lifetime sentence for the former anti-drug chief.

Sum Chankea, a rights observer for Adhoc in Banteay Meanchey, said the trial could act as a signal to other corrupt public officials. “It is strengthening law enforcement,” he said. “And it is a warning to other government officials not to offend that they will face trial like Moek Dara.”

The hearing comes on the heels of a trial for five other Banteay Meanchey police officials charged with bribery, who were each sentenced between three and four years in prison this week.

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