National Police Chief Hok Lundy signed a request on Nov 10 from the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Trafficking Department to raid the Chai Hour II Hotel, after a department investigation found that virgins were being trafficked and sold at the hotel, according to a copy of the police request obtained Thursday.
The request, submitted by General Un Sokunthea, head of the department, is dated Oct 7 and was signed about one month before police, in conjunction with a Phnom Penh Municipal Court official and the anti-trafficking NGO Afesip, raided the hotel Dec 7.
The police investigation leading up to the raid found that about 250 women and girls were employed as sex workers at the government-licensed hotel, the request states.
Of the 250, about 100 were employed as masseuses, whom clients paid $20 for sex, $10 of which was kept by hotel management, the document states. The other 150 women and girls were employed as karaoke singers and were also available for sex.
One hundred of the females were allegedly confined inside the hotel, the request states.
In the statement, Un Sokunthea asked Hok Lundy to send the details of the case to the Municipal Court to obtain a search warrant, “in order to rescue victims and arrest suspects and prosecute them according to the law.”
Municipal court Prosecutor Siem Sok Aun signed a search warrant for the raid on Dec 7, a copy of the warrant shows.
Only hours after the Dec 7 raid, seven suspects arrested during the operation were released on the orders of an unidentified official, court and Interior Ministry officials said.
On Dec 8, about 30 people attacked the women’s shelter where 83 women and girls taken from the hotel during the raid were residing. One witness has said that some of the women and girls were ushered into a sport utility vehicle bearing military license plates. The hotel, which remains open for business, says the females are back at work and have filed court complaints against the NGO Afesip over the raid.
Exactly who ordered the suspects freed remains unclear.
Contacted Thursday, Siem Sok Aun and Chief Prosecutor Ouk Savuth said they had not been informed of who made the order.
Repeated calls to Hok Lundy went unanswered Thursday.