Municipal Court Charges Hostage-Taking Robber

An armed robber who took a 20-year-old woman hostage on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island Monday was charged Thursday with aggravated theft, a municipal court official said.

Nhim Sopheap, 28, forced his hostage to act as a getaway driver at gunpoint as military police pursued him for nearly an hour.

When he was cornered outside O’Russei market, Mr. Sopheap tried to shoot at the officers, but his gun failed to go off. Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Chea Meth said Thursday that the court had charged the suspect with theft with aggravating circumstances resulting from violence under Article 357 of the Penal Code.

“He used a woman as a hostage; that is what he is accused of, and attempting to hurt the victim,” said Mr. Meth, declining to give more details.

Mang Sok Luch, chief of the research and judicial bureau at the military police, said that the suspect had been sent back to military police headquarters be­cause it was too late for the court to issue a detention order that would have allowed him to be sent to prison.

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