Home > Local News > General also charged in ’01 weapons case

General also charged in ’01 weapons case

A BRIGADIER general arrested this week for
possessing illegal weapons faced similar charges in 2001 but was never
brought to trial, national military police commander Sao Sokha said
yesterday.

Samith Virak, deputy director of the materials and
technology department at the defence ministry, was arrested at his home
on Monday. Police at the scene said he was under investigation for
“other issues” in addition to the weapons charge, but declined to
elaborate.

Sao Sokha said yesterday that Samith Virak was also
arrested in September 2001 on suspicion of involvement with a group
called the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, which staged a terrorist attack
in 2000 in Phnom Penh, firing guns and rockets at the Ministry of
Defence and the Council of Ministers.

While the CFF link was
never substantiated in court, Sao Sokha said Samith Virak had been
charged with illegal detention, possession of illegal weapons and
illegally possessing a military uniform before being released on bail
by the military court in January 2002.

Sao Sokha said he was
unsure of why the case was never brought to trial, or why Samith Virak
was able to secure a government position despite the charges against
him.

“We are investigating to find out who allowed this man to
get a position at the Ministry of Defence,” Sao Sokha said, adding that
police were also investigating “whether this man trafficked weapons or
created any illegal movements or insecurity in the country”.

Ney
Thol, head of the military court, declined to comment both on the
current case and on why Samith Virak never faced trial following his
2001 arrest.

“I can’t say anything about it now because the investigation is ongoing,” Ney Thol said.

Sao
Sokha said “Samith Virak” was an alias, and that the suspect’s real
name was Pich Thoeun. Police confiscated 12 illegal firearms from the
general’s office and five from his house, Sao Sokha added.

Chhun
Yasith, the Cambodian-American leader of the CFF, received a life
sentence in a US court last year for his involvement in the 2000 attack.

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