Former RCAF General Arrested for Kidnapping

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.”


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