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High Command Staff General Arrested on Drug Charges

A high-ranking general was detained Thursday and appeared in municipal court Friday on charges related to an April 1 drug bust in Kampong Speu, officials said.

Maj. Gen. Chum Tong Heng, deputy cabinet chief for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces high command, was arrested Thursday evening in Phnom Penh, according to officials from the courts, police and military.

Chum Tong Heng was being held at Prey Sar prison Friday, after appearing in Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which is civilian. He is being held pending an investigation, but police and court officials declined to give further information.

The April 1 drug raid, one of the largest on record, netted 18 suspects, including 14 Cambodians, and three tons of methamphetamine-production material. Most of the Cambodians have been released because they were only workers at a production facility, officials said.

Chum Tong Heng works under the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces commander-in-chief, Gen. Ke Kim Yan, a member of the ruling Cambodian People's Party. Chiv Keng, head of Phnom Penh Municipal Court declined to give case details.

"I have already told you that I cannot answer you yet," he told VOA Khmer by phone. "I will let [investigators] proceed first. If I reveal [facts] now, the investigation will not be important. Do you know that the case is a big criminal case and complicated. The case cannot be revealed so you will broadcast it on radio while the investigation is going in such a complicated case."

RCAF Cabinet Director Lt. Gen. Thou Sun, who is Chum Tong Heng's direct supervisor, declined to comment, saying only, "I don't know yet what is going on."