PHNOM Penh Municipal Court heard a case yesterday against three Cambodian men charged with the kidnapping of a 5-year-old boy last year.
The three suspects – Morm Sophoan, 20, Kim Horng, 25, and Phat Varak, 19 – were arrested in November last year in Kampong Cham province, where they were allegedly waiting to collect a US$4,000 ransom from the boy’s parents.
They stand accused of taking the boy from the city’s Sorya Mall and spiriting him to Kratie province’s Snuol district and holding him there for three days.
Morm Sophoan claimed in court that, as the boyfriend of the victim’s sister, he had permission to take the boy to the mall and then to Kratie.
“I didn’t hold the boy illegally,” Morm Sophoan said. “I let him walk free with other children, and I didn’t attempt to ransom him and extort money from his parents when we where in Kratie.”
Fellow defendants Kim Horng and Phat Varak claimed Morm Sophoan had told them that he had permission to take the boy.
“I knew nothing about plans to use the boy for ransom, because Sophoan told me that he had only brought him for a visit,” Phat Varak said.
This testimony contradicted confessions read out by a court clerk yesterday that were allegedly given to police following their arrests.
“Sophoan confessed that after arriving in Snuol district on the evening of November 4, he kept calling the boy’s parents and asking them to bring him $5,000 to get the boy back,” the clerk said.
“The figure eventually dropped to $4,000, and on November 7, the men travelled to Kampong Cham province to collect the money and were arrested.”
Phat Varak and Kim Horng confessed to being in on the scheme and said they were in line to receive cuts of $700 and $500, respectively, the clerk said.
Municipal Court Prosecutor Chek Khemara said the three men’s in-court denials were unconvincing and that there was enough evidence to convict them. Judge Duch Kimsorn said a verdict would be announced on December 8. If convicted, the men face between three and five years jail.