Pao Ly, the owner of the Chai Hour II Hotel, was arrested in Koh Kong province on Saturday after a police officer brought him back from Thailand, Chhay Sinarith, director of the Interior Ministry’s information department, said Sunday.
Pao Ly is now being detained at the Interior Ministry and will be sent to the municipal court for questioning by Investigating Judge Kim Ravy today, Chhay Sinarith said.
An arrest warrant was issued for Pao Ly earlier this month for alleged possession of a weapon and conspiracy to traffick persons.
“[Pao Ly] had already fled to Thailand,” Chhay Sinarith said. “We tried to find him to arrest him in accordance with the arrest warrant from the court,” he added.
Lawyer Yin Wengka maintained Sunday that his clients, Pao Ly and Chai Hour II manager Sam Leng, are innocent.
Sam Leng was charged on Sept 8 with collusion in human trafficking related to the attempted sale of a 16-year-old girl into the sex trade.
“There is no evidence,” Yin Wengka said of the case against his clients. “What evidence do they have to even make an arrest?”
The Chai Hour II has been embroiled in trafficking allegations since a Dec 7 police raid when 83 women were removed from the premises and taken to a women’s shelter run by the NGO Afesip. The day after, however, the women were taken away by a group of men who forced open the shelter’s entrance gate.
In June, the US threatened to level sanctions against the country for its poor performance on trafficking issues, especially the handling of the raid on Afesip’s women’s shelter.
Chhay Sinarith denied the US threat had prompted the government to take action against those linked to the Chai Hour II.
“We don’t do this to satisfy the international community,” he said. “We don’t try to satisfy anybody, we must do this according to the law.”