Two of three Russians questioned by Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court yesterday denied they threatened a boatman with a knife and locked him in a room before forcing a crew of six overboard last month, their court translator told the Post.
During a court session that lasted four hours, tycoon Sergei Polonsky, 40, and one of his co-accused, Alexander Karachinsky, 25, rejected charges of intentional violence and illegal detention, but said little else, translator Tel Samuth said.
“Polonsky and Alexander denied the allegations and for most of the questions said they didn’t know anything,” he said.
Konstantin Baglay, 25, the third man charged over the incident near Koh Dek Koul, a private island near Sihanoukville, was much more descriptive of the incident, Samuth said.
The alleged victims, six boatmen employed by the Snake House Restaurant and Hotel in Sihanoukville, accepted a combined $20,000 in compensation last week in exchange for withdrawing their complaint, but still faced court on Monday to answer questions about the December 29 boat trip.
The six men’s boss, Snake House owner Nikolai Doroshenko, co-owns Koh Dek Koul with Polonsky.
The boatmen’s superior, Pheng Phoeun, has said the men consider Polonsky their boss and often transport him to Koh Dek Koul.
Since the men’s arrest, Polonsky, a well-known tycoon in Russia, had made every effort to secure bail, Samuth said “Mr Polonsky wants to get out of jail and let the court process the case,” he said.
Court President Mong Monichakrya said yesterday that he could not comment on whether charges would stand or bail be given.
“I cannot interfere with the work of the investigating judge,” he said.
Deputy prison director Hieng Nimol said the three defendants, who were meant to have been questioned in their cell, were escorted back to the prison at about 6:40pm.
“I have not yet received any news from the court about whether they will be questioned again,” he said.
Sergei Vladi, Polonsky’s lawyer, could not be reached.
To contact the reporter on this story: Cheang Sokha at [email protected]
Shane Worrell at [email protected]