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Civil aviation official fired over gun threat

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Bel Van Det, a senior official at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) who has been dismissed for misconduct. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Civil aviation official fired over gun threat

Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered that the employment of a civil aviation official be terminated in response to allegations – currently being pursued in court – that he threatened others at gunpoint.

Hun Sen’s decision was issued in a sub-decree dated April 11. It officially terminated the position of Bel Van Det, deputy head of the General Department of Administration and General Affairs at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA).

The termination and pending court proceedings stemmed from a March 29 incident where Van Det, 38, allegedly pulled out a pistol and pointed it at a 22-year-old man, Chhe Van Molywan, for honking his horn at him while in traffic.

After the incident, Molywan filed a police report which led to Van Det’s arrest and referral to court the next day.

“Whether or not the court takes legal action, let me impose state discipline first. He [Van Det] used his position of power to brandish a weapon and threaten weaker people. This is a warning message to all officials to never use their power to harm the weak and especially to never use weapons illegally,” Hun Sen wrote in his official Telegram channel with the sub-decree attached.

The premier also requested that Minister of Justice Koeut Rith work with the courts to ensure that Van Det – who is facing charges for the incident but currently out on bail – is not able to harm or threaten anyone in the meantime, which could mean a revocation of bail and return to custody for the former civil aviation official.

Chin Malin, a spokesman for the justice ministry, noted that the sub-decree is separate from the court procedures, which include the investigation, indictment and probable trial to be decided by the judiciary and prosecution.

“[The justice minister] is the official in charge of all prosecutors throughout the court system and he can coordinate with the court through the prosecutor to request that the suspect be placed in pre-trial detention while we continue with the court proceedings,” he said.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, expressed his support for the prime minister’s action as an appropriately serious response to a corrupt government official using their authority to threaten people, an especially serious offence as he used a weapon to intimidate the young man.

“In the past, the prime minister has always said that government officials are the servants of the people and not their bosses,” he said.


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