Agriculture Ministry official, Masphal Kry, who was arrested in the United States for smuggling endangered monkeys, has been released on bail, the Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.
The Ministry said on its Facebook page on Wednesday that the government will continue to provide necessary legal assistance and support Masphal until the end of his case.
Masphal, deputy director of wildlife and biodiversity, was arrested in New York while in transit to an international meeting about trade regulations for endangered species.
The Ministry said a US court released Masphal on bail on December 27.
“Kry Masphal was released on bail after going through a string of legal battles with two US lawyers defending him in a US court,” the Ministry said in a statement on Facebook.
The statement added that it was an effort of timely assistance from the Cambodian Embassy in the US, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the government as a whole.
The Ministry saidd that the legal assistance is to assure that all Cambodian officials deserve justice.
“Ensuring justice for all Cambodian officials, including Kry Masphal, who encountered problems while on missions abroad for the national interest is the duty of the Royal Government of Cambodia,” the statement said.
The Ministry considered this bail as positive news for Masphal’s family, especially his children, after being separated and out of contact for more than a month.
The statement said the case will go through a series of court proceedings in the US and the government “will continue to provide the necessary legal assistance and support him until the end of this case to seek justice".
On November 16, two Cambodian officials from the Ministry and six co-conspirators were indicted for their role in the alleged primate smuggling scheme, according to a US Department of Justice statement.
Am Sam Ath, operations director of Licadho, told Kiripost on Thursday that Cambodia should learn from this case to better manage monkey trafficking both in and out of the country.
“Cambodia should reexamine the monkey trading matter, and as we can see there are our officials that are associated with this case. Through this experiment, Cambodia has to restrengthen the prevention and control of the trafficking of monkeys, or all kinds of animals that are prohibited from being traded and considered a crime, especially trafficking abroad,” he said.