Four Suspects Arrested Over Violent Koh Rong Robbery

Four Cambodian men have now been arrested over a violent robbery at a guesthouse on Koh Rong island off the coast of Sihanoukville last week that left a Canadian expatriate with serious head injuries, police said Monday.

In Bora, chief of the Interior Ministry’s central judicial department and part of a delegation of high-level police officials who traveled to Sihanoukville to investigate a recent spike in violent crime involving foreigners, said he led a team of local officers to make the arrests on Sunday.

“We arrested four perpetrators,” Lieutenant General Bora said, naming the men as Vann Sihavorn, 22; Chup Tith, 27; Khuon Hun, 24; and Choem Ratana, 27.

The attack at the Broken Heart guesthouse on Koh Rong late Thursday night left Canadian Michael Hay, 27, with a fractured cheekbone and an 11-cm gash to the head, a doctor’s report says. Mr. Hay was employed at the guesthouse by Finnish national Jouni Niemi, 49, who sustained minor injuries in the assault. According to police, the suspects stole $3,000 in cash, a laptop and other electronics.

Lt. Gen. Bora said Monday that the suspects had confessed to planning the robbery over the course of four or five days.

Seang Kosal, Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief, said the four men were questioned at provincial police headquarters yesterday and that one of them was previously employed at the Broken Heart guesthouse. The National Police website identifies Mr. Hun as a former guesthouse staff member.

Speaking from his bed at Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh on Monday, Mr. Hay identified one of the four suspects from photos posted to the National Police website as “Mr. One,” who he said had been an employee at the guesthouse until January.

Struggling to speak through broken teeth and a severely swollen face, Mr. Hay said that the suspects used bricks and steel bars in the attack, which occurred as he and Mr. Niemi moved cash to an onsite safe.

According to Tiia Komulainen, who works with the victims, Mr. Niemi has checked out of the hospital and is nursing minor head injuries and a number of broken bones in his hands, sustained when he attempted to block blows from his assailants.

The violence on Koh Rong follows an increasing number of crimes involving foreigners in Sihanoukville—including brawls, stabbings, a car bomb and a drive-by shooting—which prompted Interior Minister Sar Kheng to send a team of top police to investigate.

Contacted Monday, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said that the mission was complete and had returned from Sihanoukville on Sunday.

“Those officers have returned and made a full report to the Deputy Prime Minister [Sar Kheng] to consider,” General Sopheak said. “[We have] investigated every case [involving foreigners] and there will be positive results.”

Asked if the delegation—which included Nov Leakhena, deputy director-general of the Interior Ministry’s immigration department; Dy Vichea, chief of the ministry’s central security department, and members of the anti-terrorism department—had met with the expatriate factions allegedly at the center of recent violence, Gen. Sopheak said only that the situation was “under our control.”

“I think they understand,” he said. “Those people have been conducting illegal activities and they must comply with the law.”

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