Fugitive tycoon and murder suspect Thong Sarath was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday night.
The real estate developer and okhna, the prime suspect in the November 22 murder of Shimmex Group chairman Ung Meng Cheu, was arrested by Ministry of Interior Internal Security police acting in conjunction with Vietnamese authorities, police said.
“He was arrested in accordance with the court’s warrant for his arrest, and was arrested by our Ministry of Interior’s Internal Security Police forces in collaboration with Vietnamese police in Vietnam on Thursday night,” Internal Security chief Major General Seang Sen told the Post on Friday morning.
“After his arrest, he was sent for overnight questioning at the Ministry of Interior, and he now has been transferred to Phnom Penh Municipal Police headquarters, where they are preparing documents to send him to court,” he added.
Colonel Eng Sorphea, chief of the Serious Penal Police Unit in Phnom Penh Municipal Police, confirmed that Thong Sarath was still being detained at Phnom Penh Municipal Police Headquarter in Phnom Penh.
“He now was still being questioned by municipal serious penal police. We will send him soon to Phnom Penh Municipal Court after completing of his questioning,” he said.
In the aftermath of the Meng Cheu shooting, Sarath was quickly accused of masterminding what appeared to be a gangland-style hit on his business rival.
Five of Sarath’s bodyguards were arrested in the ensuing days, which featured a bizarre press conference in which Sarath’s parents, Keo Sary and Tan Sok, boasted that they told their son “to escape”.
Sarath himself released a series of videos from hiding in which he appealed to Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene on his behalf.
Sary and Sok were later arrested and face illegal weapons charges stemming from a police raid that uncovered a number of guns at property owned by the family.
The couple were subsequently granted bail – an act that led to the removal of then-Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Ang Maltey from his position – only to be caught near the Vietnamese border in an alleged attempt to flee.
The couple at the time claimed they were simply going for one of Sary’s routine medical checkups.
Charged with premeditated murder, Thong Sarath faces a potential life sentence if found guilty.
Neither Sarath nor his lawyers could be reached for comment on Friday.