The National Police are questioning 26 Chinese nationals involved in a kidnapping case in China, following their arrest in a Sino-Cambodian joint operation in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town on Friday.
Provincial court spokesman Teng Samay said on Sunday that after obtaining an arrest warrant from China, Cambodian and Chinese police raided two buildings – one in Kilometre 4 village in Phsar Kandal commune and another in Poipet commune – and arrested the 26 Chinese nationals.
“They have been taken to the Ministry of Interior before being returned to China. We cooperated with China in this operation. We checked the warrant of arrest which had the names of the Chinese nationals on it,” he said.
Provincial police chief Ath Khem said the suspects were involved in a kidnapping case in China and escaped to Cambodia.
“During the arrest, we tied their hands and transported them on a mini-bus from Poipet town to the Ministry of Interior while waiting for further action in accordance [with Cambodian] and Chinese laws,” said Khem.
National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said officials are questioning the suspects one by one to build a report. However, he could not confirm when they plan to send the suspects back to China.
Rights group Adhoc spokesman Soeung Sen Karuna called for a thorough investigation into the case to guarantee that the suspects apprehended were indeed complicit in the crime. He noted that sometimes, criminal repatriation is not always the best course of action.
“We are concerned that they were arrested on [false] accusations at a time when China is having problems with activists,” said Sen Karuna, adding that he does not support the occurrence of any criminal activities in Cambodia.
A report from the Ministry of Interior said that from 2014 to July of this year, Cambodian authorities had sent back 2,700 Chinese nationals under an agreement between the countries under Cambodian immigration law.