Four Chinese men on trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court retracted their confessions on Monday and denied allegations that they took two men hostage for two months in an attempt to get them to repay gambling loans with the help of their relatives in China.
Instead they cast blame on their supervisors at a loan company, who have not been charged.
A total of seven men are being tried in the case in which two men were taken captive for failing to repay borrowed money they lost gambling at NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh. Six of them were arrested in December in three separate military police raids.
Dai Xiao Hui, 35, Xue Wutong, 46, Xu Cheng, 41, Li Xihua, 59, Wang Jie, 35, and Zhang Zhong Sheng, 41, face charges of collusion in illegally detaining the two gamblers. A seventh suspect, Chou Pi Long, remains at large and is the suspected mastermind of the crime.
Speaking in the court on Monday, Mr. Li, Mr. Xu, Mr. Wang, and Mr. Zhang all denied any wrongdoing.
“I just worked at NagaWorld and looked for guests that had lost games to lend them money,” Mr. Li said, laying blame on two of his supervisors—named only as Mr. Fong and Mr. Hua—and claiming that he had only been responsible for finding clients for them.
Mr. Xu and Mr. Wang echoed Mr. Li, while Mr. Zhang said he had not worked for the loan company, which wasn’t identified, but was simply staying at the home of the company’s owner.
All four defendants retracted previous statements in which they admitted to the crimes, claiming that they had falsely confessed because authorities had intimidated them.
“I just said whatever because of fear of retribution,” Mr. Xu told the court. “It was not true.”
According to the victims’ statements to military police, they had been brought to a hotel room at the casino to meet with Mr. Hua, who then ordered their detention.
One of the victims has since withdrawn his complaint. The other said he was held over a $12,000 loan.
It is unclear whether Lee Hong Wei, the company’s owner, or the supervisors are being investigated.