The ringleader of a gang who attempted to rob and kidnap a wealthy family in the Borey Angkor gated community in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on March 1 was formerly employed by the family as a driver, according to a report from the Phnom Penh municipal police on March 2.
The report identified Oem Sovannarith, 21, as the man who had initiated the plans to rob and kidnap his former employer and his family.
His former employer Mao Hour, 58, was previously head of a branch of Electricite du Cambodge in Kampong Cham. After retiring from that position Hour had begun working in the private sector making electricity supply bids in some areas of Phnom Penh and the provinces.
The report noted that after quitting his job the suspect had later returned to ask him if he could resume work as his driver but Hour had already hired someone else for the job and they turned him away.
Having been spurned by his former employer, Sovannarith recruited three accomplices to join him in his plans to kidnap, rob and kill up to 10 people – eight family members and two servants still working at the house.
Sovannarith’s plans were somehow leaked to Hour’s family and when the suspects arrived to carry out their robbery, kidnap and murder plot they found municipal police forces there waiting for them.
“First, [the suspects] arrived at [Hour’s] house and forced him to write a million dollar cheque at gunpoint. They had then planned on taking Hour’s daughter with them to the bank as a hostage.
Leaving nothing to chance, the plotters had decided to leave one of their group behind at Hour’s house with him so that when the other three criminals and Hour’s daughter went to withdraw the money at the bank he would be there to force Hour to answer his phone when the bank called asking for his approval to cash the cheque, the official report claims.
According to the police report the four plotters had intended to murder all 10 of their victims once they had gotten a hold of the money from the bank and also cleaned out all of the money and jewellery in Hour’s household safe.
The gang’s plan was foiled when police forces arrived on the scene and a shoot-out erupted between the opposing sides. All four of the suspects – armed with modern AK-47 rifles – were killed in the gun battle.
Hour and his family were shaken but unharmed and no police were injured in the operation.
Besides the ringleader Sovannarith, the police identified another suspect, Ry Pisey, 30, a resident of Kampong Samnanh commune in Kandal province’s Takhmao town.
The two remaining plotters have not yet been identified. The bodies of the four are currently being kept at Tuek Thla Pagoda in the Sen Sok district where the shoot-out took place.
Ung Serey Kut, commander of the Bodyguard Command, has issued a letter denying rumours that Sovannarith was formerly a member of the bodyguard forces holding the rank of major.
The letter said the insignia card of the Bodyguard Command that Sovannarith was using was a forgery.