Four Arrested in Slaying of Businessman

Police arrested three Cambo­dians and a Taiwanese man Wednesday night in connection with the contract-killing of prominent foreign businessman Lee Chim Hsin, the president of the Taiwanese Business Asso­ciation.

Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara pronounced the case “closed,” though police said Thursday afternoon that one suspect remained at large.

Municipal judicial police arrested Horng Ching Chang, a 48-year-old Taiwanese businessman; Tang Pang Chiv, 21; Keo Horn, 38; and Ngang Pao, 32, who are all being held at municipal police headquarters awaiting a court hearing and investigation.

Police detained the men “one by one” in a series of arrests starting around 7:30 pm, said Lek Vannak, municipal judicial police chief. They found the four through information gained from “secret spies” and the testimony of a witness, he said.

Lee was fatally shot June 29 in Tuol Kok district near his home. His murder sent waves of concern through the business community and threatened to affect investments from Taiwan, the country’s No 2 foreign investor.

Lee’s killing also underscored the failure of Chea Sophara and other political and security officials to resolve security issues in a city recently struck by a wave of robberies, abductions and murders.

Lee was murdered, police say, because he intervened in a business dispute between Chang and a business partner at the Hong Kuon cement factory.

Chang discovered that his partner, Liu Hsin-yi, had taken $400,000 from the company, Lek Vannak explained.

Chang took the case to court, and Liu was arrested; however, Lek Vannak said Lee intervened and “arranged” for Liu to be freed in an attempt to settle the problem between the two out of court.

Taiwanese businessmen interviewed at Lee’s death ceremony Tuesday confirmed that Lee had been mediating for Liu Hsin-yi, but they did not say with whom.

His intervention, however, angered Chang, Lek Vannak said. Chang hired Keo Horn and Ngang Pao, both former military policemen, to kill Lee, using his Chinese-Khmer translator Tang Pang Chiv as a middleman, Lek Vannak alleged.

Chang paid $3,000 for the hit, Lek Vannak said. A $1,000 finder’s fee went to Tang Pang Chiv, and the rest went to Keo Horn and Ngang Pao. However, Keo Horn decided against doing the killing himself, and asked Ngang Pao, Lek Vannak said.

At 2:45 pm on June 29, Ngang Pao and an unidentified man went to Lee’s Tuol Kok residence and waited, according to police reports. They shot Lee as he was “turning into his house,” according to Mann Chhoeun, municipal chief of cabinet.

The two men fled on a red Viva Best motorbike, a motorbike taxi driver told police. They slid around a corner and nearly crashed before speeding off, the witness said.

Police were still looking for the driver of the motorbike, said Seng Vanna, municipal police chief in charge of information. He confirmed the four arrests.

Also injured in the attack was Lie Chuen Chin, son of Liu Hsin-yi. He was shot in the arm and hospitalized. Liu Hsin-yi has since gone into hiding, according to one Taiwanese factory owner, a friend of both Lee and Liu, who asked not to be identified.

“He is still in Cambodia,” the businessman said. “But even us [Taiwanese], we cannot find him. It’s a secret right now.”

Taiwan media flocked to the story, and the head of the Taiwan Business Association in Taipei considered warning potential investors away from Cambodia. Local businessmen demanded at a forum with Hun Sen on Wed­nesday that their personal security be better taken care of.

Other businessmen were shaken up by the attack, as well.

“This is not a well-governed place,” said Roger Tan, secretary-general of the Garment Manu­facturers Association of Cam­bodia.

Authorities “need to put a stop to this sort of thing,” he said.

Another businessman, Law­rence Lim, said he and his colleagues were “frustrated” and “a little bit angry” about the killing. Lim himself was robbed in late June, and his case has so far not been solved.


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