The man identified by police as the prime suspect in October’s kidnapping of opposition parliamentarian Lon Phon is a suspected member of a major kidnapping ring busted by police in December, police officials said.
Houth Ravouth, whose whereabouts are unknown, was the ringleader in at least seven kidnappings, Sim Hong, deputy commander of Phnom Penh military police, said Wednesday.
“Huoth Ravouth did not head only one group of kidnappers, but more than one…We never arrest him but only his [gang] members. We never arrested the ringleaders because they are strong,” said Sim Hong.
Bith Kim Hong, deputy municipal police chief, said Wednesday that seven members of the gang were arrested in December by police for a string of kidnappings in Phnom Penh, Kandal and Kompong Speu provinces, which netted them almost $500,000.
Huoth Ravouth and Pak Chhorn, a Kompong Speu military commander, are among 11 members of the gang still at large, police said.
Sim Hong and Lek Vannak, municipal judicial police chief, maintained Wednesday that Huoth Ravouth has fled to Thailand, and Sim Hong said he suspected Houth Ravouth was being protected by his friend Julio Jeldres, King Norodom Sihanouk’s official biographer.