Police in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district raided a villa on Friday afternoon where victims were allegedly detained and tortured by their employers following a tip-off from residents living nearby.
But municipal police later said the alleged detention and torture of the victims was part of the company’s disciplinary procedures after questioning the suspects, who were released after being educated and signing a contract.
Taing Cheaseng, Prek Thmey commune police chief, said police were tipped off by local residents living nearby, who simply said there was something unusual about the activity in the house.
“The suspects were already sent to the district police office after the arrest. There are six suspects and five victims. All of them are Chinese,” he said.
“We cooperated with the immigration bureau and criminal bureau of the municipal police along with the prosecutor. We were alerted by ordinary people who were suspicious of something bad going on in the house,” he said.
Mr Cheaseng said the victims, who reportedly had their hands tied with cables, had been freed by the time police got into the house.
“When we raided the villa, they did not resist us. We called out to them to open the door to let us in. When we surrounded the house but could not get in, they untied the victims’ hands and then we found them all there,” he said.
Em Saravuth, Chbar Ampov district police chief, said the alleged detention was just part of the company’s disciplinary methods although he was not sure what kind of company it was.
“The expert forces already sent them to the municipal police station. Actually, the victims are employees of the company who committed wrongdoing,” he said.
“They did something wrong like drinking or gambling and did not work much. It’s part of the company’s discipline. It is not torture at all,” he said.
Mr Saravuth confirmed that minor bruises were found on one victim’s body, but declined to say if action needed to be taken and referred the question to municipal police.
“There are just minor bruises from a thin stick, just like when we beat our children or grandchildren,” he said.
A municipal police officer who was referred by Mr Saravuth said it was just the way the company disciplined its employees.
“After the questioning, we just educated them and let them go home because it was just part of the company’s disciplinary procedures. Regarding this decision, it is up to the senior level. I am just a low-level officer and just followed orders,” he said.