A military police commander arrested for kidnapping a Naga casino executive last
month took part in the crime after betting - and losing heavily - at the casino,
according to his superior.
Major Van Veourn, military police chief of the
southern Phnom Penh district of Meanchey, was among seven men charged with the
abduction. An eighth man, also a military officer, is being sought.
those arrested was the Khmer bodyguard of the casino's Malaysian chief operating
officer, Lim Kim Hock, who was kidnapped.
Lieutenant Colonel An Sokhon,
chief of the second bureau of Phnom Penh's military police headquarters, told
the Post that Veourn had frequently gambled at the casino.
much money, Veourn sold his Toyota Camry car to fund his betting, according to
However, he continued to lose money. He became friends with Seng
Sambath, Lim Kim Hock's bodyguard, and they discussed the prospect of abducting
the Malaysian for ransom.
Khmers are supposedly barred from gambling at
the Naga casino, unless they are also citizens of another country.
was kidnapped after his car was stopped on Sihanouk Blvd by a gang of armed men
while on his way about 3am on Aug 16.
According to Sokhon, a "secret
military police agent" later reported Veourn was involved in the
On Aug 19, Veourn was "invited" to the Phnom Penh military police
headquarters and arrested.
"He gave us the whereabouts of the village [in
Kompong Speu] where the Naga official was being held," said Sokhon.
group of Interior Ministry, Defense Ministry, municipal police and military
police raided a building in the village and freed Lim.
Sokhon said of
Veourn: "He was a good MP...and it is the first time that he was involved in
"He helped us to arrest the other offenders, so I think that the
punishment on him should be thoroughly considered and reduced if
Brigadier General Mok Chito of the Phnom Penh police
identified the seven arrested as: Veourn, 30, Sambath, 28, Kim Sam Ath, 30,
Chhun Ty, 24, Thor Chamnan, 20, Sieng Nieng, 31, and Pen Thol, 52. The latter
five had also allegedly committed many robberies in Phnom Penh, he
The seven, being held in T3 prison, have been charged with
"terrorism" and firearms offenses under articles 2 and 4 of the State of
Cambodia criminal law. If convicted, they face 10-15 years in prison.
Interior Ministry official told the Post an arrest warrant had been issued for
an eighth man, described as a senior military officer, alleged to have helped
plan the kidnapping.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense and the Phnom
Penh municipality police continue to haggle over the release of two soldiers
arrested at the Naga the day before the kidnapping.
The two - Keo Chantha
and Brak Mao - were among more than 100 Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers
hired to guard the outside of the casino.
The Post reported in its last
issue that the two were detained by military police after a clash between the
RCAF guards and municipality police officers. Police captain Nib Vibo alleged he
was beaten unconscious, and his deputy shot in the leg, by the guards.
Sokhon - whose military police officers are holding the two soldiers - said a
Ministry of Defense offer of $600 compensation for the two injured policemen was
rejected by the police, who wanted $5000.
The military police would
release the two soldiers "as long as the two sides, the soldiers and the police,
agreed with each other to accept a final solution."
Nib Vibo, meanwhile,
warned he would seek revenge if he did not receive adequate
"If the problem is not solved, I will solve it myself... I
am a police officer and my reputation was damaged, so this problem must be