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Extortion in NE Prison Leaves Spirits ‘Broken’

Detainees in a prison in the northeast province of Mondolkiri are being held in poor conditions far beyond legal limits, raising suspicions of corruption, a prison official said Tuesday.

Prisoners who can’t bribe their way out of detention grow sick as they are held without trial, and “their spirit is broken,” the official told VOA Khmer, on condition of anonymity.

At least two women and five men are serving time without trial, some as long as one year, in the Mondolkiri facility, the official said.

Charges range from theft to murder to adultery, the official said.

“There are many people, and they are sick,” the official said. “They have not been sentenced. Their spirit is broken.”

“Each person is asked to pay at least $1,500” to be released the official continued. “The smallest amount, $1,500.”

Mondolkiri Prison Chief An Kimleng dismissed the allegations.

“Fines” for detainees prior to trial dates are possible, he said, but “the prison chief has no right to put people on trial.”

Em Veasna, a human rights worker in Mondolkiri, said such cases of extortion were likely, especially if news of them was trickling out.

Mondolkiri Court Chief Lou Sousambath could not be reached for comment Tuesday.