Police say they are still searching for at least one more suspect in connection with last week’s hostage-taking at the Siem Reap International School that left a 2-year-old Canadian boy dead, though few details have been released.
Ou Em, Siem Reap province’s serious crimes police chief, said police believe there were one or two people in addition to the seven so far in custody.
“But these suspects are not in Siem Reap province. They are in other provinces,” he said. “I cannot give details on this because we are still investigating.”
Four of the men charged took part in the hostage-taking while the other three—including the school’s security guard and a man who allegedly sold the gun used in the siege—were arrested in the following days.
Celebrating the hostage rescue, Siem Reap CPP parliamentarian Seang Nam held a lavish party on Wednesday night for about 500 police, military police and government officials, thanking them for a job well-done and encouraging them to keep working hard.
“Police and all the authorities that were at the hostage-taking are invited,” Siem Reap district police Chief Ung Chandarith said.
“Seang Nam also invited the parents and schoolteachers so he can meet with them and talk about the school. It’s not only a party but also a meeting,” he said.
Several parents whose children were held hostage were unaware of the party, and one parent wondered if the celebration was appropriate.
“What is there to celebrate? A boy is dead,” parent Bernard Loyer said.
Parents gathered Wednesday morning for a memorial at the new De La Paix Hotel where 2-year-old Maxim Michalik’s father, Martin, had started working about two months ago.
Loyer said there was no mention of a meeting with Seang Nam during the memorial, though many other things were discussed.
“If the parents were invited, they didn’t go out of their way to tell us,” he said.
Loyer, a Canadian who works at the Angkor Village Hotel and Resort, said his two young daughters, one of whom was held by the hostage-takers, were doing well despite their traumatic experience.
“They seemed to be okay,” he said, noting the girls haven’t had nightmares or any other problems. “For my part, it’s kind of like life is back to normal.”
Another parent, Jon Morgan, who is the executive director of the Angkor Hospital for Children, said he and his wife spent the weekend focusing on their daughter Reaksmey, 3, who has been acting normally until asked if she wants to go back to school.
“She is very determined she doesn’t want to go back or the ‘bad men’ will come to get her again,” he said. “That is heartbreaking.”
Morgan said he also feels anxious whenever Reaksmey is out of his sight and felt it will take time before things return to normal.
Morgan, who has lived in Cambodia for many years, said the hostage-taking hadn’t forced him or his family to consider leaving the country.
“It’s not shaken our commitment to working here,” he said.