Police Chief Slams Court for Releasing Suspect

Phnom Penh’s deputy police commissioner strongly criticized the municipal court on Monday for releasing the alleged leader of a kidnapping gang, saying that the suspect is guilty and should be charged with kidnapping.

The police later rearrested the man released by the courts.

Heng Pov, the deputy police commissioner, said the courts released Chan Saeb, the alleged ringleader of a gang of kidnappers, on April 9—the same day that the police arrested the suspect.

“It was inappropriate for the judge to release the ringleader,” Heng Pov said. “I arrested [Chan Saeb] again, and I am willing to allow the judge to sue me, but I will not release the ringleader.”

The arrest was made after four suspected kidnappers accused Chan Saeb of being the ringleader of their kidnapping gang, said Tuol Kok district Penal Police Chief Heng Vathana on Monday.

The district police arrested the four alleged kidnappers on April 3 as they were dragging an unidentified person into a Toyota Camry, he said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Kim Sophorn, who or­dered Chan Saeb released, defended his decision on Monday.

“The arrest made by the police was wrong,” he said. He added that the victim of the alleged April 3 kidnapping owed Chan Saeb money, and Chan Saeb asked his four relatives to make a citizen’s arrest so that the man could repay his debt.

Heng Pov, however, said that other factors may have influenced the judge’s decision.

“I can’t say that the judge released the victim because he is corrupt, but when I arrested the ringleader, [his] wife wanted to offer me $1,000” to release him, Heng Pov said.

Heng Pov also said he ap­pealed to Judge Kim Sophorn to issue another arrest warrant, but was not granted one.

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