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Police guard empty house while tycoon’s wife flees

A tycoon's wife has fled the family’s Phnom Penh mansion in the wake of last week’s accusations that she regularly beat and abused two girls held captive there for more than seven years, police said yesterday.

Pol Pithey, chief of the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Police, told the Post that by the time police had been ordered to guard the Tuol Kork district mansion of oknha Veng Lyphytech to prevent the escape of his wife, Ly Pov, she already had left.

They later realised they were guarding the house for nothing, he said.  

Following Pov’s flight, he added, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a warrant for her arrest, and police at the Ministry of Interior on Friday and Saturday questioned her husband, Lyphytech, who owns the Borey Vimean Sopheak Mongkul Apartments.

“Our police experts already finished questioning oknha Veng Lyphytech on Saturday,” Pithey said. “According to his answers as well as one of the two victims’ answers at our police office, the oknha was not involved with this case; rather, his wife alone did it. However, we will continue to further investigate him in this case.”

One of the two 17-year-old victims told police that the oknha sometimes had argued with his wife over her cruel treatment of the girls, Pithey said.  

Following his questioning, Lyphytech was allowed to return home on Sunday after he signed an agreement with police promising to appear at the police station if summoned in the future and to help find his wife and bring her to the police for questioning, Pithey said.

Police were now working to find and arrest Pov, he added.

Meas Chanpiseth, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor responsible for the case, could not be reached, but a court clerk who asked not to be named yesterday confirmed the court had issued a warrant for Pov’s arrest late last week.

“She was charged with committing torture and cruelty,” he said.

Hang Sayon, an investigation team leader at anti-trafficking NGO SISHA, said his organisation’s lawyers would give the victims legal support, but he did not yet know whether their case would involve Pov alone or others, too.

Police had told him the girls escaped when a guard at the mansion went to lunch, Sayon said, but added that further investigation was necessary to verify all the girls’ claims.

The two victims and their families were unavailable for comment yesterday. 

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JUSTINE DRENNAN

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