Fervent negotiations were under way Wednesday night for the release of a CPP finance official’s son who was kidnapped Tuesday afternoon.
Chheang Sophan Narith, 25, son of Ouy Kem Chheang, deputy director of the public investment department at the Ministry of Finance, was kidnapped outside his home in the Chamkar Mon district of Phnom Penh around 1 pm, according to municipal police.
The kidnapping came just three days after the highly publicized shooting death of kidnapping ring leader Sam Nara, known by his nickname “Rasmach.”
Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara proclaimed the city was more safe after Rasmach’s death, only to have his words rendered null Wednesday by the latest kidnapping.
“I’m very upset about this,” Chea Sophara said Wednesday.
Around 300 municipal and military police had been dispatched to search Phnom Penh with photographs of the two suspects, Chea Sophara said. He said the victim’s family first recognized the suspects in the photographs.
By 6 pm Wednesday, the ransom had been negotiated to $170,000, reduced from an original $300,000. Negotiations between the family and the kidnappers began at midnight Tuesday and lasted until 4 am Wednesday, when the kidnappers became suspicious of police involvement and turned off their phone, according to municipal military police officials who refused to be named for fear of retribution.
Chea Sophara said at least one man was arrested who may have been involved in the abduction.
The man, whom the governor would not name, was arrested in the Holiday hotel in Daun Penh district and has been on the run from Sihanoukville authorities for marijuana-related charges, Chea Sophara said.
The man had contacted the family of Ouy Kem Chheang “only three days before the kidnapping,” Chea Sophara said.
There was some circumstantial evidence connecting the man to Tuesday’s kidnapping, but not enough to prosecute him, the governor said.