Phnom Penh Police Bust Illegal Cockfighting Arena

Police on Monday broke up an illegal cockfighting event in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district and arrested more than 15 people in the crowd. Many were betting on which bird would survive the bloody fight, a police official said.

Phnom Penh police had been investigating the area for one week before the crackdown following a tip-off that a cockfighting event was planned in Srah Chak commune, said Bun Satya, chief of the municipal minor crimes bureau.

“There were many people watching the fight, and although we arrested more people, only 10 were discovered to have been betting on the cockfight,” he said.

The owner of the house where the cockfighting ring was set up, Nguyen Yang Kha, and the dealer in charge of gambling at the fight, Le Yang Dang, were also arrested and will face charges in court today.

Mr. Satya said that spectators placed bets of about 100,000 riel, or $25, on the bloody match. Police are still questioning suspects to determine who was betting, and who was simply watching.

Gamblers will be fined, and spectators will be “educated,” he added. “If we find places that are practicing cockfighting, we will crackdown because cockfighting is illegal,” he said, adding that he did not know what happened to the birds involved the fight.

Despite the brutality of the centuries-old blood sport, it was the last kind of gambling to be outlawed in Cambodia.

In cockfighting, two especially aggressive roosters fight each other until one is incapacitated.

In 2009, Prime Minster Hun Sen ordered all cockfighting arenas to be shut down and the practice made illegal. He singled out for criticism Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, whose fondness for the sport saw him open a string of cockfighting arenas, including one at his residence in Takeo province’s Bati district.

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