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Three arrests in murder of Japanese businessman

3 GCNP1

Three Cambodian men have been arrested and charged in the March shooting death of a Japanese businessman in the capital.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court sent the trio to pretrial detention at Prey Sar Prison’s Correctional Center I on Saturday after charging them with illegal weapon use, robbery and intentional murder, according to a senior police official at the Ministry of Interior, who added that two suspects remain on the lam.

Major General Chhay Sinarith, director of the Internal Security Police Department at the Ministry of Interior, said the suspects, 22-year-old In Sok Chheng, 38-year-old Pov Noch, and an unidentified 25-year-old, robbed and shot Japanese national Kosei Kitakura in front of the Maliya Apartment complex on Street 288 in normally placid Boeung Keng Kang I commune.

The shooting, which also wounded a tuk-tuk driver, happened early in the morning on March 3. Kitakura, a 44-year-old businessman, was hit with four bullets and died on the way to hospital.

Sinarith said the suspects were arrested at rental homes in Meanchey district on April 19 following a lengthy investigation and two members of the group escaped.

“They belonged to a gang of armed robbers who knew each other and committed armed robberies before in Phnom Penh,” he said. “According to the three suspects’ answers, there were two other men related with this case. And our police now are seeking for their arrests,” he said.  

After their arrests, police seized motorbikes, cell phones and a K59 pistol with six bullets.

A police officer in Chamkarmon district who asked not be named told the Post yesterday that Kitakura had been gambling at NagaWorld Casino hours before his death. The suspects allegedly followed him home, shot him, then took his winnings and valuables.

Through a tip, the police were able to go back to the casino and locate the men who parked their motorbikes there while allegedly waiting for Kitakura. A month-long investigation in which authorities tailed the men preceded the arrests.

A Japanese embassy representative in Phnom Penh said he was aware of the arrests.

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