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Justice Official Arrested for Fraud

A senior official at the Ministry of Justice was arrested Wednesday for allegedly falsifying documents in an attempt to secure the release of a Russian tycoon accused of child sex crimes.

Police and ministry officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Prum Piseth, head of administration at the Ministry of Justice, was arrested following the complaint of Lt. Gen. Hing Bun Heang, chief of Hun Sen’s bodyguards.

Prum Piseth allegedly forged Hun Sen’s signature on documents that ordered the release Alexander Trofimov, the high-profile defendant in the midst of a pedophile case.

The arrest comes just days after the US State Department censured Cambodia’s efforts to curb human trafficking, including for child sex exploitation and impunity of public officials involved in the practice.

Trofimov is one of the highest-profile arrests for pedophilia in recent years. He was granted a permit to develop the entire island of Koh Puos into a luxury resort, prior to his arrest for alleged sexual acts with underage girls.

Prum Piseth also faces a complaint from a woman who claims he cheated her out of $240,000, the officials said.

One justice official who could not reveal details in the case directed questions to Brig. Gen. Muong Khim, who he said led the arrest operation.

Muong Khim denied arresting Prum Piseth.