Banteay Meanchey Provincial Court yesterday charged 12 Chinese nationals for the kidnapping of three fellow nationals over gambling debts.
Brigadier General Sith Lah, provincial deputy police chief, yesterday said that the 12 accused men were gamblers and loan sharks working with a Chinese-owned casino in Poipet city, which sits on the Cambodian-Thai border.
He added that they were charged with arrest, detainment and unlawful confinement and face up to five years each in prison if convicted.
Brig Gen Lah noted that they were arrested at about 3pm on Saturday after provincial penal police in cooperation with Poipet city police raided two guesthouses in Kbal Spean I village in Poipet commune.
Brig Gen Lah said that they were arrested after they held hostage three Chinese nationals who owed them money from gambling, noting that the accused men planned to extort money from the hostages’ families in China.
“After catching the three victims, they took them and detained them in their rental houses,” Brig Gen Lah said. “They beat them and tortured them, causing serious injuries.”
“After beating and torturing them, they filmed them and took photos of them in their wounded state. They sent the photos to their families in China. They telephoned their families and demanded ransom money,” he added.
Brig Gen Lah said that the victims’ families alerted the Chinese embassy in Cambodia on Thursday, leading to an embassy official alerting Banteay Meanchey provincial police.
He added that after receiving the complaint from the victims’ families as well as the report from the embassy official, police conducted an investigation that led to a crackdown and arrests of the 12 men on Saturday in Poipet city.
“They were arrested after police raided two guesthouse rooms they rented in Poipet city,” Brig Gen Lah said. “After their arrests, police rescued the three Chinese victims, two of whom were 18 years old and another who was 29 years old, and who were all seriously injured from the beating and torture.”
He added that the victims were sent by police to a private clinic in Poipet city for treatment before they were returned to their families through the Ministry of Interior and the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh.
Major General Ath Khem, chief of Bantey Meanchey provincial police, yesterday confirmed that the three victims have returned to their families after receiving treatment for their injuries.