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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tourists in $60,000 theft trial

Tourists in $60,000 theft trial

Indonesian suspects Dainavil Saputra (centre), 27, and Esamel Ibrahim, 32, leave Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.

My arrest, my detention, as well as the charges against me have violated my rights, my work and my honour

A lawyer representing two Indonesian tourists accused of stealing more than US$60,000 in an elaborate theft said yesterday that they were victims of mistaken identity and weren’t even in the country at the time of the alleged crime.

Tourists Esamel Ibrahim, 32, and Dainavil Saputra, 27, were charged on March 28 with stealing the money and intentionally causing damage after thousands of dollars were taken from a Cambodian couple on February 24 this year.

At a trial yesterday, Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge said that the Indonesians were arrested at Green Hotel, in the capital’s Daun Penh district, after a female complainant alleged that the pair had placed nails underneath her car while it was parked in front of an ANZ Royal bank outlet in the capital.

The couple had gone to the bank to withdraw thousands of dollars, to be used to buy supplies for Cambodian soldiers, the court heard.

Once the couple had driven off, the tourists are accused of following the vehicle until flat tyres caused it to draw to a halt. They allegedly then grabbed $61,300 and 4 million riel (around $1,000) in cash from a large purse held by the 45-year-old woman.

Esamel Ibrahim said yesterday that they had only entered into Cambodia as tourists via Poipet twice this year from February 5 to 9, and from March 15 to 21, at which point they were arrested.

“I am a victim of false arrest. My arrest, my detention, as well as the charges have violated my rights, my work and my honour,” added Dainavil Saputra.

“I was staying with family in my country. I would like to ask the court to release me now so that I will have a freedom to go back my country and meet my family.” Pich Soriya, a defence lawyer acting for the two victims, added that police had allegedly  produced fake documents during the arrest of his clients.

“I think that this is the Cambodian police’s mistake. The arrest of these innocent Indonesian tourists could affect tourism,” he said.

“There is no proof or evidence to charge my clients with being involved or committing this crime. Therefore, I would like to ask the court to consider their case, drop the charges and release them,” he added.

Chief of Phnom Penh Municipal Police, Touch Naruth, and other officials could reached for comment yesterday.

A verdict is due to be handed down on August 1.



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