The Phnom Penh Municipal Police are seeking permission from the National Police to sack a Chamkarmon district deputy police chief for using drugs after the official was arrested by police from the Ministry of Interior’s anti-drug department on February 10.

Municipal police spokesman San Sokseyha said Huot Piseth had been sent to the Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre, pending further investigation.

“We are preparing documents to ask permission from the top level to fire him from the National Police,” he stated.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said the deputy police chief is currently classified as a drug user rather than a dealer so he was deemed a victim by law rather than a criminal suspect, but if he was also involved in drug distribution then the authorities could charge him with a crime.

“He is a police official but acted against the law so he must receive punishment. Deputy National Police Chief and Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief Sar Thet is the one to examine the case and decide on it,” he said.

Mak Chito, deputy national police chief in charge of the anti-drug department, could not be reached for comment on February 15.

But an anti-drug department official who asked not to be named said that on February 10, the authorities raided a guesthouse in Boeung Keng Kang III commune of Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kang district where Piseth was arrested due to evidence of drug use.

“After the arrest was made, just a few hours later the anti-drug department sent Piseth to the Phnom Penh municipal police station and then on to the Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre,” he said.

Sek Socheat, co-founder of the Mindset Development Organisation, said tough measures against officials who commit wrongdoing would more or less deter others.

“The sacking of this deputy district police chief from the National Police sets a good example for the leadership and it is correct. I support this as a citizen because the law-breaker is to be punished legally,” he added.