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General arrested in Thailand

Kim Marintha sits handcuffed as authorities check his personal possessions near Poipet Town in Banteay Meanchey
Kim Marintha sits handcuffed as authorities check his personal possessions near Poipet Town in Banteay Meanchey on Saturday. PHOTO SUPPLIED

General arrested in Thailand

A senior military official wanted over the alleged double murder of his mistress and their daughter was charged by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after being arrested in Thailand on Saturday, according to Cambodia’s National Police.

Major General Kim Marintha, 57, fled the country to Thailand in February after being tipped off that a joint task force was searching for him in connection with the grisly killings, which investigators believe occurred at the headquarters of a bus company owned by Marintha.

He is suspected of dumping the bodies of his mistress, Va Dary, 27, and their 6-year-old daughter, Kem Thavichda, by the side of the road near Pech Nil in Kampong Speu province’s Phnom Sroch district on February 15. The bodies were found in an advanced state of decomposition on March 20.

“The arrest was made on Saturday morning under the cooperation between Cambodian police and Thai police since they had joined the investigation,” a statement posted to the National Police’s website yesterday said. “The arrest was made at the border between Thailand and Laos while he was waiting to be processed to cross the border into Laos.”

Phnom Penh Municipal deputy prosecutor Keo Socheat said the court had yesterday charged Marintha with “voluntary murder”.

“The suspect was already charged with voluntary murder and will face life in prison if he is found guilty,” he said.

Police said the suspect had been flagged by Thailand’s immigration system as “wanted” following his addition to the International Criminal Police Organisation’s (Interpol) wanted list earlier this month.

Police identified three suspects – Marintha, his son Kim Seng Rithy and his son-in-law Chea Samnang, 34, who was arrested on August 9 in Preah Sihanouk province.

Samnang had fled the capital after getting wind of the investigation and was tracked to Mondulkiri province by police before his arrest near Sihanoukville.

Seng Rithy is listed by Interpol as being charged with hiding the bodies and using illegal weapons. The whereabouts of Marintha’s son is still unknown, and police are continuing attempts to track him down.

Cambodian police escort Major General Kim Marintha through a checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey after Thai authorities handed the suspect over on Saturday
Cambodian police escort Major General Kim Marintha through a checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey after Thai authorities handed the suspect over on Saturday. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Brigadier General In Bora, chief of the Ministry of Interior’s Penal Police Department, confirmed the arrest had taken place but declined to give further details as the case was ongoing.

James McCabe, operations manager at Phnom Penh-based Child Protection Unit, said Marintha had been hiding out in the Thai resort town Pattaya with another mistress. He was arrested after trying to renew his visa at the Laos border. He was then taken to Bangkok, where Interior Ministry officials came to escort him home under armed guards.

“It’s a credit to the Cambodian government and the joint task force that, regardless of who he is, the authorities have made the arrest. And it shows that you cannot get away with murder,” McCabe said.

As well as boasting high-level political connections to former Royal Cambodian Armed Forces chief and current Deputy Prime Minister Ke Kim Yan, Marintha held substantial business interests in the Kingdom.

An owner of the GST Express Bus Company, he is also director of the Rubber of Friendship VC Company, the Arra Best Corporation and Fataco Corporation.

On September 4, police raided the home of Marintha’s ex-wife, Eang Kanet, who claimed the couple had divorced and she had not seen the major general in “a long time”.

Despite her denials, a police officer at the scene said Marintha was thought to have been “a regular guest” at the property.

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