Cambodia’s Anti-Corruption Unit detained the nation’s controversial ambassador to South Korea, Suth Dina, and is preparing to file corruption charges following a probe of his spending, complaints by Foreign Ministry staff and Cambodian migrant workers, the unit’s chief said on Tuesday.
While Suth Dina could face a pair of corruption charges, ACU chief Om Yentieng declined to specify what the charges will be.
“We arrested him yesterday at 7p.m, so we have 48 hours until tomorrow at 7 p.m. to charge him,” he told RFA’s Khmer service. “After 48 hours, it means we must bring him and his case to the court.”
Om Yentieng refused to say what charges were, but he said the ones for which Suth Dina was arrested are relatively minor, hinting that he may face even more serious ones later.
“We found so many faults, so we may choose just the two counts at first in order to send him to court before the 48 hours is up,” he said. “As for other offences we’ll work on them later.”
Suth Dina's response
Regarding the allegations, Suth Dina in mid-March posted a request for a review from Prime Minister Hun Sen on his Facebook page. In the post he asked Hun Sen to look into the case and give him justice.
In the post, he writes that he strived to fulfill his role and sacrificed everything to serve the government, the ruling Cambodian Peoples’ Party as well as the people and students who are living, studying and working in South Korea.
“If I do not have a firm stance, I could not have success in the hot battles of administrative work, diplomatic work, and politics,” he wrote in the post, adding that he also has to “fight with those who are twisting my words … and reporting to the upper levels in order for them to revoke trust in me or to remove me from my post.”
He added: “The officials who come after me have no conscience about their work, no sacrifice, no transparency as officials who have to serve the workers and the Cambodian people. They just conspire with each other, finding all means to complain about me, to accuse and defame me, to get rid of me from my post I hold to serve the people.”
Suth Dina was a former president of the Cambodian Democracy and Students Front who supported Prince Norodom Rannaridh’s FUNCINPEC Party. He used to be a political activist who led demonstrations against the CPP. In 2009, however, he joined the CPP and soon after that he was nominated as undersecretary of state at the Foreign Affairs Ministry and was also a personal advisor to Hun Sen. In 2014, he was appointed as Cambodian Ambassador to South Korea, an important investor in Cambodia.
Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, welcomed the move by the ACU.
“It is what the citizens in general want,” he told RFA. “They want to see the ACU taking actions against corruption in all cases.”
This is the second time the ACU has taken actions against Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials for corruption. Last week, the ACU arrested a Foreign Ministry official named Hea a Sen for allegedly taking bribes from foreign companies in exchange for approving various documents.
Reported by Chandara Yang for RFA's Khmer Service. Translated by Pagnawath Khun. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.