Fake Pistol Helps Woman Escape From Prey Speu

A detainee escaped from Phnom Penh’s Prey Speu social affairs center on Friday after her boyfriend and another man threatened a security guard with a fake pistol, but was rearrested after a getaway crash, police said.

The escape happened around midday, when the pair visited 24-year-old Khem Sreypich at the center in Pur Senchey district’s Choam Chao commune, district police chief Yem Saran said.

After talking for about an hour, Ms. Sreypich attempted to leave with the two men, but was blocked by a security guard. One of the men then drew a fake pistol and pointed it at the guard, who allowed them to leave, he said.

The three jumped on a Suzuki motorbike and fled the facility, he said.

Police were quickly alerted and set up a checkpoint in Choam Chao, but the group drove straight through it. Police on motorbikes eventually managed to cut them off near the Attwood Business Center in Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla Commune, Mr. Saran said.

After the group crashed its getaway motorbike, Ms. Spreypich and Oun Rothanak, 23, were detained and sent to the district police station, while her boyfriend—whose name Mr. Saran said he could not remember—managed to escape from the scene and remained at large.

“After the police cut in front of the suspects’ motorbike, the suspects fell on the ground and one suspect got up and fled on foot,” he said. “The police were able to arrest only the driver and the lady.”

The fake pistol and motorbike were confiscated, and officials were attempting to locate the boyfriend, he added.

Although Prey Speu is touted as a rehabilitation center for vulnerable citizens, critics say the center is essentially dumping ground for vagrants, sex workers and drug users, who have long complained of sexual and physical abuse by guards.

Ban Vuthan, the director of the center, declined to comment on the escape.

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