Authorities in Cambodia on Sunday arrested five Chinese nationals who kidnapped two other Chinese nationals in a ransom plot where they demanded U.S. $100,000 from their families, the latest of several similar recent cases in which the suspects and victims were Chinese.
The arrest was made after the local police received a complaint from a Chinese man, who said the two victims were being held at the Imperial Hotel in Chaktomuk commune in the capital Phnom Penh, the National Police website reported Tuesday.
The two victims were rescued and the five suspects will be tried at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, the police report said.
It was not immediately clear why the suspects were demanding $100,000, but in previous cases, the dispute has been over gambling losses on money borrowed from the suspects.
20 arrested in Preah Sihanouk province
On Nov. 21, Preah Sihanouk province’s police chief Chuon Narin told RFA’s Khmer Service that police there arrested 20 Chinese two weeks ago, after they detained 27 other Chinese in two separate cases.
In the first of the two cases, Narin said that 11 suspects kidnapped 11 of the victims on Nov. 15, demanding $20,000 from them in exchange for their release.
Police were tipped off when one of the relatives of the victims contacted the police department.
Narin said in that case, the victims had borrowed money from the suspects to gamble in a casino, but they lost it all and had no money to repay their debts. This is when the suspects detained them and reached out to their families to try to recoup their lost money.
The Preah Sihanouk police department’s other arrest occurred on Nov. 17. Nine Chinese had detained 16 other Chinese nationals in that case.
"The [Chinese suspects] have detained other Chinese nationals,” said Narin.
“They did not kidnap them, they just detained the victims for money, because they wanted to settle the dispute outside of the court system," he said.
He added that his police department had already sent the 20 suspects to the provincial court, but he did not know what they had been charged with.
RFA has tried to contact Provincial Court Spokesman Lim Bunheng on Thursday November 21, but he could not be reached.
The Preah Sihanouk police collected two K-54 pistols and several bullets from the 20 suspects. They also seized 23 pairs of handcuffs, a hammer, and long sticks that they used for torturing the victims.
Gambling in Preah Sihanouk
Cheap Sotheary, a coordinator for human rights group ADHOC in Preah Sihanouk, said that cases involving the illegal detention of Chinese by other Chinese have become more common since casinos became more numerous in the province.
“We have seen that most of the victims are Chinese nationals, and we never see cases where they owed money for failing at making businesses, we only see them playing games at casinos," she said.
There are usually lots of people playing in the casinos and most are Chinese, she said, adding that the number of tourists who visit the province has decreased because news of kidnappings has spread. She also said that kidnappings often occur when gamblers lose on borrowed money.
There are 48 Casinos in Preah Sihanouk province.
The Interior Ministry's immigration department deported 906 Chinese, including 172 women, to China, in the first nine months of this year.
Some of the deported Chinese were involved in economic crimes in China, and they were hiding in Cambodia, and some were involved in illegal online gambling schemes, while others were involved in fraudulent by telecommunication (VOIP) in Cambodia.
Reported by RFA’s Cambodian Service. Translated by Pheap Aun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.