PHNOM PENH —
A former general and leader of the Khmer National United Party were arrested on Friday on drug-trafficking charges, officials said.
Nhek Bun Chhay, also a former government advisor and former deputy leader of the royalist Funcinpec party, was arrested Thursday on charges of conspiring to produce and import amphetamines in Kampong Speu province in 2007.
Gen. Khieu Sopheak, an interior spokesman, said the decision to detain Bun Chhay was not political but did not explain why the courts had decided to issue a warrant more than a decade after the alleged crime was committed.
Sopheak added that the drug operation was allegedly run from land in Kampong Speu owned by Bun Chhay.
A former assistant to Bun Chhay was previously sentenced to 25 years in prison for his involvement in the alleged drug ring.
In June, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party cut ties with the KNUP after it was reported that Bun Chhay had contacted Eng Chhay Eang, vice president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, to discuss cooperation. As a result, Bun Chhay lost his government advisory role.
So Chantha, a political scientist, said the courts were likely again being used as a political tool of the ruling party, given than Bun Chhay had recently fallen out of favor with the CPP. “The ruling party declared that he [Bun Chhay] had been unfaithful to them. So it can be said that the arrest is a threat against those who plan to change allegiances.”