Frenchman Accused of Botched Bank Robbery Is Charged

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged a 48-year-old French national with attempted robbery and illegal weapon possession over his alleged attempt to rob a bank in Chamkar Mon district on Monday evening, according to Investigating Judge Te Sam Ang.​​​

Francois Chateau was arrested Monday evening after allegedly trying to flee from the Cambodia Asia Bank branch office on Mao Tse Tung Boulevard. A bank staffer had grabbed his handgun after the suspect apparently put the weapon, a loaded Glock pistol, on a table while waiting for staff to hand over the money. As he tried to make a getaway with about $275, Mr Chateau slammed into a glass exit door and was apprehended.

Judge Sam Ang said by telephone he would question the Frenchman today. If found guilty, Mr Chateau could face five to 10 years in prison for robbery and six months to two years incarceration for illegal weapon possession, Judge Sam Ang said.

A court clerk for Deputy Prosecutor Sok Kalgan said on condition of anonymity, that during questioning Mr Chateau admitted he tried to rob the bank. “We charged him with attempted robbery and illegal weapon possession,” he said, adding, “He confessed to robbery, but he said he was drunk.”

While waiting to be questioned at the court yesterday afternoon, Mr Chateau, who appeared severely bruised and exhausted, told a reporter he had consumed a bottle of whiskey Monday evening following a bitter telephone conversation with his aging father in France.

He claimed he hardly remembered any of the events that followed, apart from slamming into the bank’s door. “I drank a bottle of whiskey. I don’t remember what happened, I remember I crashed into a glass door,” said Mr Chateau.

He said the gun he carried had been given to him by a friend a long time ago, adding, “Everybody has a gun here, it’s the culture since 1993. I never use it.” Mr Chateau said he had lived in Cambodia for 17 years and owned an auto repair garage in Boeng Keng Kang III commune, a few hundred meters away from the bank he allegedly tried to rob.


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