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Police general gets 18 months prison for violating Covid lockdown

Former police general Ung Chanthuok arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal court ahead of his trial for breaching COVID lockdown guidelines, April 29, 2021. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang
Former police general Ung Chanthuok arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal court ahead of his trial for breaching COVID lockdown guidelines, April 29, 2021. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday convicted and sentenced a two-star police general to 18 months in prison for drinking and partying over the Khmer New Year holiday in violation of strict measures introduced to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Ung Chanthuok was stripped of his rank as a Major General and his two drinking partners were sentenced to 12 months prison in the case, Kuch Kimlong, Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman, confirmed on Friday, adding that they were each fined $200.

More than 300 people have been detained, some imprisoned, in Phnom Penh and Takhmao over the past two weeks for breaching the lockdown, police said.

Of 347 people detained, 10 were charged and sent to prison, 27 sent to quarantine and 274 were fined under the new COVID law, said San Sok Seiha, Phnom Penh municipal police spokesman.

“As we have seen, police forces and physicians are tired due to working 24-hour in helping people and to improve the situation as a normal,” he said.

On Monday, the government extended the lockdowns of Phnom Penh and neighboring Takhmao city in Kandal province for one more week, a move that civil society groups said would increase economic burden and food struggles for the poorest.

In Sihanoukville, which has also introduced lockdown measures, police arrested a Chinese national on Tuesday night for drink driving without a mask, said provincial police chief Chuon Narin.

“We are preparing one case for sending to the court who has violated a measure during lockdown,” he said, adding that authorities have done well to control the situation there.

“There are few violators [during lockdown] because we make education a priority,” he said.

Phnom Penh and Takhmao have been under lockdown since April 15, though several communes and villages, including Stung Meanchey 3, have been locked down since April 10. Since the lockdown began, at least seven areas were designated red zones, and subject to harsh restrictions, with people allowed outside their homes only for emergencies.

Soeng Senkaruna, a senior investigator at rights group Adhoc, expressed concern that economic burdens places on families were being prolonged.


“I think there will be an impact on people’s livelihoods, including bank debts, and food shortage,” he said, calling on the government to see that debt repayments, water and electrical bills are put on hold.

However, he welcomed authorities and police who have used educational measures rather than headed to the court or fine.

“We asked authorities to try all means before proceeding with their cases,” Mr. Senkaruna said.

Cambodia has recorded 12641 cases  and 94 deaths since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, the majority of them linked to the February 20 outbreak.

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