Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday began the trial of five suspects, three of whom were tried in absentia, charged with illegal confinement and attempting to extort money from three Vietnamese nationals in Chamkar Mon district last year.
Thai Neang and Tea Kimsok were charged with illegally confining Choeng Vang Horng, Troeng Den Kha and Le Hung Toeng in October 2010 after they allegedly failed to pay back a $12,000 loan, said defense lawyer Tith Sokvanna.
Mr Sokvanna said that the victims, who had initially lost the money in a casino in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet City, were held captive in a residence in Boeng Keng Kang III commune for about six days before Mr Hung Toeng was able to escape to the Vietnamese Embassy.
“The Vietnamese Embassy filed a complaint to the Ministry of Interior about the case involving my clients,” he said, adding that the ministry then sent forces to release the men.
The three remaining suspects, Taing Ky, Pham Giang Tieng and Liv Van Hing, fled the scene and, as of yesterday, remained at large.
During the hearing, Ms Neang denied the charges and said she did not know the victims were being held captive. She said that she had been asked by a man known as “Mr Mab” to house and feed them.
“I didn’t confine them or lock them in the room. The men stayed in my rental house,” she said, adding that “Mr Mab” told her they were tourists visiting the country.
Presiding Judge Sin Visal said the trial would resume at a date yet to be determined.