Arrests Made in Brutal Murder of Iraqi Man

Police on Monday showed off four men arrested in connection with the slaying of an Iraqi man after a dispute arose over $18,000 paid in an alleged scam to produce illegal US visas.

In a press conference Monday at municipal police headquarters, the four men explained how last week they abducted and killed the victim, Falah J Mahamad, 36.

Two days later they rented a car and dumped the body in Kom­pong Speu province, they said.

Villagers found Mahamad’s strip­ped and bloated body along a rural stretch of Route 4, 30 km southwest of Phnom Penh, on the morning of June 22.

Villagers reported seeing a white Toyota Camry stop the previous night at about 8 pm, pause, then go back to Phnom Penh.

Police were tipped off to the identity of the four men after the men sent a fax message on Tues­day to the victim’s wife in Bang­kok, demanding over $600,000, Mok Chito, chief of municipal po­lice for foreigners, said Monday.

The victim’s wife complained to the Iraqi Embassy in Bangkok, which turned the matter over to the Cambodian Embassy there.

Mok Chito identified the men as Sok Sakrethya, 24, a third-year college student in California; Mak Viseth, 25; Kong Keakana, 25; and Chhun Rothan­avisal, 20.

Sok Sakrethya is the son of Sok Y San, a key Industry Ministry official for the State of Cam­bodia and the top reserve CPP candidate standing for election in Prey Veng province, Mok Chito said.

Mahamad came from Bang­kok on June 19 in response to a letter written to him by Sok Sakrethya, the men said.

The men said they picked him up at the airport and drove him to Sok Sakrethya’s Tuol Kok house, where a fight ensued.

Mahamad was shot once in the thigh by a K-54 pistol round, handcuffed and beaten, the men said.

He died overnight after he was locked in the bathroom. Police have said the body showed signs of brutal torture, although the men made no mention of that.

Mok Chito said the dispute runs back to May 1997 when the men paid an advance of $18,000 to Ma­hamad and a Thai business partner to produce 17 false visas for them and their friends to study abroad in the US.

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