The alleged ringleader of a gang that kidnapped a Cambodian-American woman in Phnom Penh late last month has been arrested in Vietnam and handed over to Cambodian authorities, police said Monday.
Police said the suspect has confessed to the crime and to a previous million-dollar kidnapping.
Kim Vanthai, until recently a RCAF brigadier general, was handed over to National Police Commissioner Hok Lundy on Sunday, Interior Ministry Penal Police Chief Muong Khim said.
The suspect appeared before Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Kim Sophorn on Monday afternoon.
According to Muong Khim, Kim Vanthai has confessed to also kidnapping the wife of the owner of Phnom Penh’s Tai Seng Hotel last September and extorting $1.2 million in ransom.
Muong Khim said the man confessed to earning $240,000 from that kidnapping while another ringleader earned $480,000.
Klout Sothy, a computer shopkeeper from California, was kidnapped from a hotel room shortly after arriving in Phnom Penh from the US on Aug 26.
A gang demanding $5 million in ransom held her for three days.
No money was paid to the kidnappers, and they released the woman unharmed on National Route 4 with $5 in taxi fare. Klout Sothy returned to the US shortly after her release.
Two other suspects, Men Chandara, 48, a former RCAF lieutenant colonel, and Touch Sophan, 40, were arrested on Aug 29.
Police said that with Kim Vanthai’s arrest, five alleged kidnappers are now in custody while four remain at large.
The victim’s relatives told reporters last week that Kim Vanthai was an acquaintance of their family and that he had urged Klout Sothy’s husband to pay the ransom.
Sam Rainsy Party Senator Thach Sitha, a brother of Klout Sothy, praised the work of the police Monday.
“I congratulate our police who worked hard to rescue my sister,” he said. “It is good work from the Ministry of Interior.”