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)