Bavet Casino Staffer Arrested for Taking Gambler Hostage

Police in Svay Rieng province on Friday arrested an employee of the Roxy Casino in Bavet City for allegedly detaining a gambler who could not pay back a $10,000 line of credit the casino had advanced her.

Bavet commune police chief Mao Phin Phirum said Sunday that Nguyen Thi Huong Pha, 32, a Vietnamese national who worked on the casino floor, had offered the victim the credit and took her hostage in a room at the casino when she lost and could not pay the debt back.

Mr. Phin Phirum said the victim, Truong Thi Nguyen, 33, a dual Vietnamese-Australian citizen, was forced to call her relatives in Vietnam and ask them to pay the debt for her. But instead of coming up with the money, he said, the relatives asked the Cambodian Interior Ministry for help.

“We received information about the detention case because the victim’s family filed a complaint with the Interior Ministry’s penal police after the victim called her family to pay the creditor,” he said. “The Interior Ministry’s penal police cooperated with my office and arrested [Ms. Thi Huong Pha] on Friday.”

Mr. Phin Phirum said Ms. Thi Nguyen was freed the same day, but that he did not know when any of the preceding events had occurred or whether the victim had been physically abused during her confinement. He said Ms. Thi Nguyen was already back in Vietnam with her family.

The police chief explained that such cases were not uncommon in Bavet City—whose many casinos lure a steady stream of Vietnamese gamblers across the border—but said that most are settled before police ever get involved.

“We have seen that there are many cases of detention, but the victim is allowed to return home after their families pay the creditors,” he said.

In Bora, chief of the Interior Ministry’s penal police, said Ms. Thi Huong Pha had been brought to Phnom Penh.

“The woman has not been charged yet. She is now in custody at the Interior Ministry,” he said. “We are cooperating with a Phnom Penh [Municipal] Court prosecutor to question her.”

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