Moto-Taxi Driver Arrested for Kidnapping 10-Year-Old Boy

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.

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