A 22-year-old Phnom Penh resident was arrested Monday after he confessed to sending a gift-wrapped grenade to a local cafe in an attempt to extort money from the cafe’s owner, municipal military police said.
The suspect, Thai Sopheap, a third-year student at Phnom Penh International University, was arrested at a Wing mobile payment outlet in Sen Sok district as he tried to receive a large cash payment from the cafe owner, according to Then Sovan, deputy commander of the municipal military police.
Colonel Sovan said Mr. Sopheap had been attempting to extort Yen Yunthoy, the 23-year-old owner of Prime Cafe in Tuol Kok district, and sent the grenade as a threat.
Although police on Sunday arrested a former employee of the cafe, Sok Kakada, for the crime, Col. Sovan said Mr. Kakada had been cleared of involvement and would be released.
“The suspect threatened to extort $5,000 as ransom. If the owner of Prime Cafe did not pay, the suspect would have exploded the grenade,” he said.
Col. Sovan said Mr. Yunthoy had received two threatening phone calls on Sunday and Monday from a man demanding money, and agreed to send the $5,000 via Wing. Police then deployed officers to about 20 Wing outlets in Tuol Kok and Sen Sok districts.
Police arrested Mr. Sopheap on Monday as he went to retrieve the $5,000 at a Wing outlet in Sen Sok district.
“We deployed secret military police forces to watch the extortionist get the victim’s money from Wing. At 11 a.m. today, we saw the suspect arrive at the Wing outlet in Phnom Penh Thmei commune, Sen Sok district, and our military policemen caught him red-handed,” he said.
Col. Sovan said Mr. Sopheap did not work at the cafe and declined to provide further details about the case or Mr. Sopheap’s motives.
On Sunday, an unknown man arrived at the cafe and handed a security guard a Soviet-made grenade, with its pin still intact, concealed inside a wrapped box.
Police quickly arrested Mr. Kakada, a former cafe manager who was fired from his job last week, after Mr. Yunthoy said he suspected him in connection with the incident.