Military Police Suspected in Kidnap Ring

Chea Sophara Sacks Two Commune Chiefs

Phnom Penh officials said Monday they suspect military police are involved in a sophisticated kidnapping ring that nabbed two people within five days and netted more than $100,000 in ransom.

The kidnappings also prompted Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara on Friday to remove two commune chiefs in Chamkar Mon district and in Prampi Makara district where the kidnappings occurred.

In the first kidnapping that took place near O’Russei market, motorbike parts seller Cheng Sreng was released Jan 17 after one day in captivity, said Bith Kim Hong, deputy chief of municipal police. He had to pay $40,000 in ransom, Bit Kim Hong claimed.

Police arrested two men along Sihanouk Boulevard for that case while they were talking by phone to the victim’s family to ask for ransom money.

In the other case, Seng Kim­nay was kidnapped Jan 20, held for three days and released after a ransom was paid. Police maintained the kidnappers took $120,000 before freeing the victim.

Tuol Svay Prey commune chief Im Cheun was removed from his post and now works as a communications officer for Chamkar Mon district, Chea Sophara and a commune official said. Seng Kimnay was kidnapped in his area.

Buoy Kosal, commune chief of Veal Vong where Cheng Sreng was kidnapped, was also remov­ed from his job but it is unclear what he is doing now, according to Yim Simony, police chief of Prampi Makara district.

“They must report (crimes) immediately and stand by 24 hours (a day),” Chea Sophara said of the commune chiefs. “They don’t care for their work.”

Chea Sophara and Bith Kim Hong declined to give detailed information about the kidnappers, but said they are supported by rogue military police officials. They called the kidnappings aggressive acts done by a talented group.

National military police officials could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

They also said the kidnapping ring is newly discovered and not related to the seven men arrested and 11 being sought for at least seven abductions that netted almost $500,000.

“They do this as a kick to me,” Chea Sophara said. “The kidnappers in the second case wore police uniforms and had a motorbike escort. I am very disappointed. I could not sleep at all.”

He hinted that authorities know who the suspects are, but are waiting to gather more information before making arrests. Sim Hong, deputy commander of municipal military police, said the kidnappers are “very aggressive.”

“We arrested two of the ring members in the first case, and then they carried out another crime a few days later,” Sim Hong said.



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