3 Thais Arrested for Killing 5 Cambodians

Thai police have arrested three Thais in connection with the killing earlier this month of five Cam­bo­dian nationals working at a furniture factory in Thailand, a foreign ministry official said Thursday.

At a hastily convened news conference Thursday afternoon, For­eign Ministry Secretary of State Long Visalo said he was informed of the arrests of three of the four sus­pects by the Cambodian counselor to Thailand’s Sakeo province.

“[The] Khmer consul phoned me this morning and informed me that three Thai nationals who worked in the same factory were ar­­­rested,” Long Visalo said.

Thai authorities had initially spe­culated that the May 7 killings were the result of a dispute among the factory’s 300 Cambodian workers. After encouraging Cambodian mi­grant workers in Thailand to re­turn home, Cambodian officials pres­­­sed Thailand to launch a thorough investigation into the killings.

The victims were killed during a botched robbery attempt, Long Vi­salo said. He said that the Cam­bo­dians had run a side business selling noodles and snacks to other wor­kers and that the money they earned made some jealous.

When the robbers attacked, “the Cam­bodians wouldn’t give them the money, that’s why they shot them,” Long Visalo said. The gun­shots attracted a crowd, he said, and the attackers fled without stealing any mo­ney.

Long Visalo added that workers at the factory had identified the suspects and backed up the Thai au­thorities’ version of events.

“I think that this information is true because Cambodian people in the factory knew [the suspects],” he said.

Long Visalo said the suspects would be brought before a Thai court today and that the Cam­bo­dian government would push for them to be punished.

But he left open the possibility that those charged were merely scape­goats.

“I always worry that the arrested are scapegoats to make things look good,” Long Visalo said.

Nuttavudh Photisaro, charge d’af­­fairs at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, confirmed that three of four suspects in the case had been arrested but offered no further details.



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