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Phnom Penh Municipal Court hears kidnap charges

Phnom Penh Municipal Court hears kidnap charges

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Suth Sophy, 38, walks out of Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday morning after the court heard allegations he helped kidnap the son of a general in the Cambodian National Police. Photograph: Mai Vireak/Phnom Penh Post

Phnom Penh Municipal Court continued hearing a kidnapping case yesterday against a group of men who are accused of holding the son of a high-ranking military official for ransom and fleeing with the money.

Nguon Seur, the former Deputy General Director of the General Commissariat of the National Police, and six additional suspects, are believed to have kidnapped the son of General Sau Phan on October 8, 2011.

Phan had replaced Seur in his job at the National Police, and it was widely believed that the kidnapping stemmed from anger over losing his position.

According to court documents, the men – only one of whom was arrested – seized the general’s son, Sau Akno, outside of his Russey Keo district house in the evening, pushed him into a Lexus and drove him away.

The kidnappers demanded $1 million from the family in exchange for his release, but settled for half that amount, $500,000, after negotiations. He was let go after a few weeks.  

In yesterday’s hearing, judges and prosecutors at the court questioned seven witnesses and read related police documents that suggested Seur had orchestrated the kidnapping.

“He was the mastermind in preparing the plan and providing the money, materials and other means to commit this act of detaining the victim and trafficking,” said Sin Visal, Presiding Judge of the municipal court.

After the ransom was paid, Seur fled the country.

He has thus far avoided arrest, as have his alleged accomplices Hun Vanna, a Cambodian-French national; Sem Sopheap, a Cambodian-Sweden national; Cheath Vicheth; a man known as Van; and Kly Sophy.

The only person arrested in the case was Suth Sophy, who was caught in Banteay Meanchey province in November last year.

Sophy, according to his testimony yesterday, owned up to nothing but following orders.

“I was only the driver of Nguon Seur,” he told the court.

Thorn Borey, Sophy’s defence lawyer, said his client had no intention to commit the kidnapping.

“I hope that the court will consider about this point, and will reduce his punishment,” he said.

The hearing is scheduled to resume on December 11.

To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at [email protected]

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