Kidnapping Victim Released Unhurt by Captors

Following a four-day ordeal, a kidnapped Cambodian-American woman was released unharmed Monday night by two of her armed captors, whom the 39-year-old victim’s relatives allege were led by a military official who was an acquaintance of the family.

After initially demanding more than $5 million in ransom for her release, Klout Sothy, a longtime resident of San Jose, California, was abruptly set free by two of her kid­nap­pers on a stretch of National Route 4 outside of Phnom Penh and given $5 for taxi fare back to the city, her brother Sann Sang said by telephone.

“During the four days my sister was in their hands, they called to ex­tort money eight times…and threatened to kill [her],” said Sann Sang, who is also from California. “Maybe the kidnappers confused her for a millionaire, but in fact my sister has a small shop selling spare computer parts.”

The victim’s brother and opposition Senator Thach Sitha, who is also a relative of Klout Sothy, al­leged the ringleader of the kidnapping gang was an RCAF official who they said has known the family since 2000.

Two suspects were arrested on Mon­day night. Three other men in­volved in the kidnapping are still at large, but a penal police official who asked not to be named said the au­thorities know their identities.

Muong Khim did not say if they were also RCAF soldiers, but he added that the case “is an individual case, [and] is not related with the institution of RCAF.”

Since Friday, the penal police chief said that they tracked down 14 suspects allegedly involved with pre­vious armed robberies and kidnappings to find Klout Sothy’s captors.

David Gainer, spokes­man for the US Embassy, said Tuesday that the embassy “followed the case very closely and we are pleased that the American citizen was released un­harmed.”

(Additional reporting by David McFadden)


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