Secretary of State’s Son Arrested in Drug Raid on KTV Parlor

The son of a government official and five others are to be questioned in court again today after being arrested at a Battambang City karaoke parlor where police found illegal drugs and pill-making equipment, officials said on Wednesday.

“One of the six people, Thai Noreak Pitou, was the son of a secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts,” said Sean Sonal, chief of the Battambang provincial police’s anti-drug department.

“We have shut down the karaoke parlor, which was providing a place to use drugs,” he said.

Police raided Sound Family KTV in Svay Por commune at about 10:30 p.m. on Monday and confiscated two devices for making pills, three packages of ketamine, two bottles of Diazepam and 16 packs of Zepam tablets, Mr. Sonal said. The latter two drugs are sold over the counter in many pharmacies.

The suspects, who were detained at the provincial police headquarters, were questioned on Tuesday and on Wednesday, and would be sent to the court again today, provincial court spokesman Touch Sopheakdey said.

The government kicked off an anti-drug campaign on January 1, pledging to crack down on drug trafficking and expand rehabilitation services.

In its first week, 652 people were arrested for drug-related crimes, including 371 suspected traffickers and 281 alleged drug users, said Chhay Kim Khoeun, a senior National Police official, earlier this week.

Mr. Noreak Pitou, 32, an actor and model, is the son of Thai Noreak Sathya, secretary of state at the Culture Ministry. Mr. Noreak Pitou’s wife, Ork Ratanak Ponika, 27, was also arrested, along with Heng Yousong, 24, Phea Bunheng, 32, Hab Sovath, 29, and Hun Mane, 27.

Mr. Noreak Sathya confirmed that his son and daugher-in-law were among the six people arrested. “We are sorry because I didn’t know he was involved with drugs,” he said. “Let them follow the law.”

“His wife had just visited her husband in Battambang province, but I don’t know why she was involved in this issue,” he said.

Meas Vyrith, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs, said he didn’t know what Mr. Noreak Pitou had been arrested for, but was sure his social status would not influence legal proceedings.

“We are equal before the law,” he said. “If they have committed a wrong, we must arrest them.”

narim@cambodiadaily.com

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