A moto-taxi driver was arrested in Phnom Penh on Wednesday for kidnapping a 10-year-old boy in Kandal province earlier in the week, authorities said on Thursday.
The child disappeared shortly after leaving for school on his bicycle in Kandal’s Ponhea Leu district on Monday afternoon. His captor, Suos Vanou, 22, was apprehended when the victim’s family alerted authorities to the kidnapping after attempting to negotiate with the suspect, according to officials.
The boy’s father, Taing Sangkom, 39, said that a day after his son, Taing Sokha Tey, went missing, he received a telephone call from a man who claimed to have found the 10-year-old.
“At about 1 p.m., a man who I didn’t know called me and asked, ‘Are you missing a son?’ and I confirmed that I was,” Mr. Sangkom said, adding that the man—who refused to identify himself—told him that he had come across a boy with the same name in Kompong Cham province.
“He told me, ‘If you want your son, please transfer 2 million riel to me through Wing,” he said, referring to the money-transfer service.
“I heard my son crying through the phone. We were really concerned that the guy could kill our son, so we decided to transfer 2 million riel [about $500] the same day.”
Mr. Sangkom said that after the original sum of money was transferred, the man called again, asking for an additional 3 million riel (about $750) and saying the boy’s life was at risk.
“He said my son was seriously ill…. He said, ‘Your son might die’” if we didn’t transfer more money, Mr. Sangkom said, adding that the family paid 2 million more riel before filing a complaint with provincial military police.
Pok Sang, deputy provincial military police commander, said that upon receiving the complaint, authorities were able to determine the suspect’s general location using his phone signal. They tracked him to Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district, where police scoured the area’s Wing kiosks, he said.
“We ordered the military police officers to patrol the road and inspect the Wing shops,” he said. “When he arrived on a motorbike with the boy to withdraw the money, we chased them.”
Dangkao district police chief Chim Sitha said the chase ended after the suspect abandoned his motorbike and tried to escape on foot.
“When we were chasing closely, he left his motorbike and the boy on the road and fled on foot into a rice field,” Mr. Sita said, adding that the man—later identified as Mr. Vanou—was apprehended in the field.
Provincial military police commander Sam Tola said the suspect was being held at the force’s provincial headquarters.
“Right now, we are building a case, and when we finish, we will send him to the prosecutor,” he said.