Authorities in Cambodia on Thursday detained former government advisor and opposition Khmer National United Party (KNUP) President Nhek Bun Chhay in connection with five-year-old allegations of drug production, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
“He was arrested today for the Kampong Speu [province] drug production case from 2012,” ministry spokesperson Khieu Sopheak told reporters in the capital Phnom Penh, adding that the KNUP chief was being held at the National Police Headquarters for questioning.
The Associated Press cited National Police Deputy Chief Gen. Mok Chito as saying that Nhek Bun Chhay had been arrested at his home on the outskirts of Phnom Penh on Thursday.
It was not immediately clear why the allegations against Nhek Bun Chhay, who is also a former commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, were being revisited five years later.
Nhek Bun Chhay was removed from his role as adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP)-led government following Cambodia’s June 4 commune election for allegedly pledging his support to the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
According to the allegations, he had been recorded in a phone call with CNRP Deputy President Eng Chhay Eang saying he could deliver votes from his supporters in communes his party did not contest. The KNUP won one seat in the local elections—the only one not taken by the CPP or CNRP.
Despite denying that he had conspired with the CNRP, Nhek Bun Chhay was sacked as a government adviser—a position he had held for nearly five years—along with more than a dozen other party members in the weeks that followed.
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Reported by Moniroth Morm for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.
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