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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06PHNOMPENH1445 2006-08-15 08:34:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Phnom Penh
Cable title:  

CORRUPTION IN CAMBODIA'S ANTI-TIP DEPARTMENT

Tags:   PHUM PREL KWMN KJUS CB 
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1. (U) Summary. On August 8, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court
initiated corruption proceedings against Touch Ngim, former Deputy
Director of the MOI's Anti-TIP Department. Ngim confessed to taking
bribe money to release brothel owners, but claimed that he was
acting upon orders of his superior, General Un Sokunthea, who leads
the MOI's Anti-TIP Unit, and who allegedly received USD 3,000 of the
USD 9,000 paid. The case came to light after four of the six
arrested filed complaints to the courts demanding compensation. End
Summary.

Touch Ngim On Trial


--------------------------





2. (U) On August 8, Judge Ke Sakhorn of the Phnom Penh Municipal
Court opened proceedings concerning a trafficking corruption case
involving the MOI's Anti-TIP Department. The prosecutor of the
Phnom Penh court filed charges in May 2006 against three police
officers of the Anti-TIP Department (Touch Ngim, Thong Kim Heng and
Rin Savoeun) for taking bribes from owners of karaoke clubs/brothels
in Kampong Speu province in exchange for their release. Ngim was
arrested in December 2005 and was the only one present in court.
Kim Heng, who continues working in the Anti-TIP Department as the
Chief of Anti-TIP Office, was represented by a defense lawyer; Rin
had no representation. Presiding Judge Ke Sakhorn has not reached a
verdict in the case.



3. (U) In September 2004, Ngim led more than 20 police officers of
the Anti-TIP Department in a raid against four karaoke parlors
operating as fronts for prostitution. Six suspects were arrested
and detained in the department for one night. All of them were
released the next morning after paying a total amount of USD 9,000
to the police. Four of them later submitted complaints to court
against the police demanding repayment of the bribe money.



4. (SBU) During the trial, Touch Ngim acknowledged releasing the
six suspects of the four raided Karaoke/brothels for USD 9,000. He
added that the release was done with the knowledge and approval of
his superior, General Un Sokunthea, who allegedly took USD 3,000 of
the total amount. The Kampong Speu Court Prosecutor, Ou Phat,
reportedly received USD 3,000. Ngim received USD 700 and the
remaining USD 2,300 allegedly was divided among the staff of the
Anti-TIP Department. Ngim testified that Kim Heng and Savoeun were
the ones who negotiated the price with the suspects, and Heng was
responsible for distributing the USD 2,300 among the Department. He
continued that this was the first time he had been involved in any
wrongdoing. He said he has worked in the Department since its
creation, helped Cambodia be promoted from Tier 3 to Tier 2 in 2003,
and received a medal from the MOI for his outstanding performance.




5. (U) The prosecutor claimed that Ngim lacks evidence to
implicate Sokunthea and the others. He said that Ngim was the
leader of the operation, and the one who made sole decision. In his
defense, Ngim said he was in fact the chief of the operation, but as
a police officer, he has to respect the hierarchy and his move
needed to be approved by his superior.



6. (SBU) Ngim's lawyer provided evidence of Un Sokunthea's
involvement in the form of a report dated September 22, 2005. In
the report, submitted to General Commissioner of the National Police
Hok Lundy, Un Sokunthea allegedly acknowledged receiving USD 3,000,
but clarified that she spent USD 2,600 to construct a building
inside the ministry. The remainder of the amount was used on a
provincial matter and the rest divided among administrative staff.
The report added that the Kampong Speu Court's prosecutor received
USD 3,000. In his concluding remarks, the defense lawyer for Ngim
stated that all involved in the corruption case, regardless of rank,
should be held responsible - not just his client. Defense counsel
also noted irregularities surrounding his client's arrest; held
longer than 48 hours in police custody, and held more than 6 months
in pretrial detention.



7. (U) During Thong's testimony, he denied any involvement in
bribe-taking or the negotiating process. Thong said Ngim and Rin
handled the case and Ngim ordered him to release the suspects. He
acknowledged that he did receive USD 100 after the operation, and he
was told that the money is an incentive for his hard work. Thong's
defense lawyer claimed his client's unwitting involvement, and asked
that charges against his client be dropped.



8. (U) The police record of Rin Savoeun's interview noted that Rin
allegedly received USD 50 from Ngim for his work. Complaints
submitted by four of the six arrested brothel owners identified Rin
as the police officer demanding money and negotiating the price.



9. (SBU) Comment: Reports of corruption in the police force are
nothing new; criminal proceedings against officers are rare. The

PHNOM PENH 00001445 002 OF 002


government's selective treatment of this case will unlikely act as a
significant deterrent to other law enforcement officials involved in
corruption. We see Ngim and the others as scapegoats in a case that
came to the public's attention only after the released suspects
asked for their bribe money to be returned. So far, Un Sokunthea
has not been charged with any wrongdoing nor has she commented on
the alleged report linking her to accepting bribe money.

MUSSOMELLI