Police Allow Detention of Casino Staff

Police are defending a Poipet casino’s 10-day detention of em­ployees suspected of skimming profits, but on Monday gave management at the Golden Crown Casino until midnight to press charges or release them.

Eleven employees at the Gold­en Crown have been detained in the hotel complex since Aug 20 as management interrogates them about a cheating ring suspected of having cost the casino more than $2.5 million.

Their detention prompted outcry from a Poipet human rights group, which has received reports that the suspected employees were beaten and tortured with electric shocks.

Police dismissed those allegations Monday after they entered the hotel and briefly questioned the detained employees. They said casino management had not tortured the employees, but ordered management to release them or take the case to court.

“This is not a case of [illegal] detention. Detention is only when there is torture and no food to eat,” said Sok Sareth, chief of Banteay Meanchey provincial police.

“When the casino files a complaint against the workers, we will take them out and question them,” he said.

Late Monday evening, however, casino management had not filed charges and said they did not plan to do so.

Instead, the management has embarked on an independent investigation into the cheating ring, questioning the detained employees and reviewing surveillance videotapes taken inside the casino. The management says it has also collected sums of money from the employees’ families as compensation.

“We don’t want to file complaints against the workers,” said Kim Ledaro, managing director at the Golden Crown.

The casino’s human resources chief, Soth Kosal, said the casino was seeking the return of double the amount of money each em­ployee is suspected of stealing.

One family member of a de­tained employee said she paid the casino $5,000 but that her son, a Golden Crown security guard, has not been released.

Leng Hor, 48, said her son was guilty of stealing some $4,500, but that the casino had ordered her to pay $10,000.

“I don’t have that much money to give up,” she said Monday by telephone. She and other family members say they have been barred from visiting the employees.

The casino’s detention of the workers has been branded illegal by the local human rights NGO Cambodian Children Develop­ment Organization for Protection of Human Rights, which is threatening to file complaints to the Interior Ministry and provincial court for illegal detention and extortion of money.

Dieb Sivutha, executive director of the NGO, said he was al­lowed to visit the detained em­ployees over the weekend and that they ap­peared to be in good condition.

However, he noted that casino management did not give him full access to interview or inspect the  employees for bodily injury, and said the casino was operating outside the law by not reporting the case to police.

The human rights NGO Adhoc and the UN are also pressing for the employees’ release, said Dieb Sivutha. All the detained employees are Cambodian.


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