Pair Charged Over Theft of 3-Star General’s Jewelry at 5-Star Hotel

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday charged two Sofitel employees with stealing more than $200,000 worth of jewelry from a three-star general’s locker at the hotel’s sports club, officials said.

Keo Socheat, a deputy prosecutor at the court, said Lieutenant General Siek Socheat—the head of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ border affairs office at the Defense Ministry—reported the jewelry stolen Friday when he noticed it was missing from his locker after swimming at the luxury Phnom Penh hotel’s pool.

“The victim lost a necklace, a bracelet, and a ring that [together] cost more than $200,000,” he said.

Mr. Socheat said the Interior Ministry’s penal police on Saturday arrested a receptionist and swimming instructor employed at the Sofitel, but he would not give their names. Based on a report from investigators, Mr. Socheat said, he charged them Wednesday with theft.

“But when I questioned them, both of them denied they stole the jewelry,” he said.

Loek Vannak, deputy chief of the penal police, said his officers arrested the suspects after watching CCTV footage, and determined that the swimming instructor used a key provided by the receptionist to open Lt. Gen. Socheat’s locker and steal his valuables.

“They…stole the jewelry, but until now, we haven’t found it,” he said.

Mr. Vannak said Lt. Gen. Socheat had been accompanied by a bodyguard, who followed him into the sports club but did not stay in the locker room.

Charles Henri Chevet, the general manager of the Sofitel, said he had also watched the CCTV footage, and believed his employees were innocent.

“We can clearly see one of the staff never entered the lockers…and the other staff was going in and out of the lockers,” Mr. Chevet said. “At the same time, the bodyguard of the member…was always in the locker room.”

“It’s almost impossible our staff is guilty,” he added.

Mr. Chevet said the hotel provided the CCTV footage to both the police and the court.

“The judge refused to look at the CCTV footage we provided,” he said. “I think they just need to find someone guilty, someone to blame.”

Investigating Judge Mong Mony Sorphea said he would watch the video today, adding that the suspects were being held at the Interior Ministry.

“We need to question them more and watch the video from the hotel,” he said.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Siek Socheat as a major general.

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