Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Nine held in connection with cockfighting, gambling ring

Nine held in connection with cockfighting, gambling ring

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Live gamecocks, mobile phones and gambling equipment are among the seized evidence. National police

Nine held in connection with cockfighting, gambling ring

Nine people, including four local media reporters, who were arrested on Sunday for their alleged involvement in an illegal gambling ring in the capital’s Mean Chey district would be sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday, district police chief Meng Vimeandara said.

Police on Sunday launched a clampdown on a cockfighting ring in Stung Meanchey II commune where nine people were arrested and evidence impounded.

“This is the first time that we have arrested people for their involvement in cockfighting and craps games,” Vimeandara told The Post on Monday.

Four out of nine suspects who were netted amid the crackdown were identified as reporters for the Piphup Thmey, Virak Senchey, and Khmer Power newspapers, as well as one unidentified local news outlet. They were 36, 53, 29 and 48 years old, respectively.

The other five suspects were aged 38, 37, 62, 48, and 45, Vimeandara said.

Three gamecocks, one bowl for dice spinning, two iron spurs, 11 old mobile phones, 870,000 riel ($213) in cash and four motorbikes were impounded during the raid.

Police deemed the operation difficult, Vimendara said, as the gambling location was hidden in a grove and watchful “agents” were standing by at the entrance to the site.

Club of Cambodian Journalists president Pen Bona said arresting the journalists was acceptable if the suspects had truly been involved in illicit activities.

He said if the reporters had accepted a bribe from the ring masterminds in exchange for not reporting the illegal events, then they were in collusion.

“I am constantly worried about this [collusion by journalists], but I also often told them to follow the ethics of journalism . . . Some people had no awareness of it whatsoever. As a result, many of them were arrested for extortion,” Bona said.

Vimeandara said the nine suspects were currently detained at the district headquarters and that the case files were being prepared “in accordance with the law”.

Though cockfighting was officially banned in 2009, it remains a common past-time in the Kingdom, with participants lured by the excitement, cash and glory.

Cockfighting has a long tradition in Cambodia, dating to before the time of Jayavarman VII. Carvings on the wall of the 12th-century Bayon temple depict a scene that wouldn’t be out of place today – two groups of men jostling for a better view as two handlers square their birds off in a ring.