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Boatmen tell court of voyage with Russians

Boatmen tell court of voyage with Russians

The complaint of violence at sea filed against Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky may have been dropped, but the alleged victims’ stories haven’t changed, their lawyer said yesterday.

Six boatmen who last month accused Polonsky, 40, Alexander Karachinsky, 25, and Konstantin Baglay, 25, of threatening them with a knife and forcing them overboard during an incident off the coast of Sihanoukville, appeared in the provincial court yesterday, their lawyer, Ouch Sopheaktra, said.

During questioning, the men, who accepted a combined $20,000 last week to drop their complaint, stuck to their description of the events that led to the Russians’ arrests on December 30, he said.

“They reported to the judge what happened on the boat,” Sopheaktra said. “It is court procedure to get this information, but the complaint we filed was to seek damages and compensation. We received that, so we withdrew the complaint.”

The matter, as far as the boatmen were concerned, was over, he said.

Court president Mong Monichakrya, however, said the case against the Russians, who have been charged with intentional violence and illegal detention, was still being investigated.

“I’m not sure how long the judge will take to finish,” he said.

The boatmen are employed by Snake House Restaurant and Hotel, whose proprietor Nikolai Doroshenko co-owns Koh Dek Koul, an island off Sihanoukville, with Polonsky.

The boatmen regularly transported Polonsky and considered him their boss, according to Snake House boat manager Pheng Phoeun.

In a letter to King Sihamoni last week, Polonsky wrote of the millions he has invested in Cambodia and the development projects he had planned.

The letter did little to impress Son Soubert, privy councillor to the king. “[Polonsky] said he did a lot of things for Cambodia’s benefit, but he’s also done them for his own benefit,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean he can violate the law. If every foreigner violated the law, it would be a mess.”

Tan Nareth, deputy director of the provincial prison, said the three men were yet to be questioned in court.

 

To contact the reporters on this story: Cheang Sokha at [email protected]Shane Worrell at [email protected]

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