Jan 24, 2011
Phnom Penh - The former head of Cambodia's anti-drugs department who was arrested this month faces a life sentence after the government accused him of masterminding a drugs-selling ring from his office, local media reported Monday.
General Mok Dara was arrested shortly after a number of other senior officials were held on suspicion of corruption and drugs offences.
'They used the anti-drug department as a network for selling drugs,' Om Yentieng, the head of the government's Anti-Corruption Unit, told The Phnom Penh Post newspaper, accusing Mok Dara and a number of other officials currently facing trial.
'Under the new penal code, a person who sells drugs will be sentenced to life in prison,' Om Yentieng was quoted as saying.
He said Mok Dara was arrested after a recent case in which he confiscated 2 kilogrammes of heroin. Om Yentieng alleged that the drugs chief declared only 1 kilogramme to the court and kept the remainder at his office along with thousands of methamphetamine tablets.
Om Yentieng said investigations were continuing.
Prime Minister Hun Sen also weighed in on the issue, the newspaper reported, warning Saturday that drugs were 'a giant virus' that threatened to 'destroy society.'
'The government has taken a hot measure, including the crackdown against high-ranking officials up to the rank of three-star general,' Hun Sen said, adding that nobody was exempt from efforts to stem corruption.
Mok Dara was the secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs.
A recent report by the agency said drugs-related arrests were up sharply in 2010 over the previous year with 536 people arrested in the first nine months of the year while about 470 people were arrested in all of 2009.
The latest Transparency International corruption perceptions index listed Cambodia as one of the most graft-ridden countries in the world.
Cambodia was ranked at position 154 out of 178 nations surveyed below Haiti and on a par with the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau.