Suspect Arrested in Japanese Businessman’s Murder

A 28-year-old Cambodian man arrested in Thailand last week has admitted to two murders, including that of a Japanese businessman who was robbed after taking substantial winnings from Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino, an official said Sunday.

Police in Thailand’s eastern Chachoengsao province detained Sok Na on Thursday for his part in the March 3 murder of 43-year-old Japanese businessman Kitakura Kosei in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district, for which three others are already jailed awaiting trial, said Major General Chhay Sinarith, director of the Interior Ministry’s internal security police department.

Mr. Na also admitted to the previously unsolved December murder of 25-year-old Cambodian Ghov Chong Kaing, in which the same scenario also ended in a shooting, Maj. Gen. Sinarith said.

“Thai border police cooperated with our internal security police for over a week to seek out and arrest [Mr. Na], and the suspect was handed over to our border police on Friday,” he said, adding that Mr. Na had fled across the border last month in the same week as three others were arrested in connection with the murder.

“The suspect had illegally entered Thailand by a [unofficial] corridor route near the Poipet International Checkpoint on April 18 after his three partners were arrested on April 16 and April 18.”

In Sokcheng, 22, and Pov Noch, 28, who were arrested inside NagaWorld, and a third unnamed assail­ant, had admitted to colluding to scout out big-winning gamblers and rob them. The three were charged with murder, and arrest warrants were put out for Sok Na and another culprit, who is still on the run.

In the early hours of that Sun­day morning in March, two men on a motorcycle followed Kitakura Kosei to his Boeng Keng Kang I commune home, fatally shot him twice in the stomach and stole his winnings from a night at the casino.

Maj. Gen. Sinarith said Mr. Na had confessed to being the shooter in Kitakura Kosei’s murder—in which as much as $10,000 was stolen. According to Maj. Gen Sinarith, Mr. Na also admitted during questioning to the murder of Ghov Chong Kaing.

In the early hours of December 9, another Sunday morning, Ghov Chong Kaing was accompanying his Chinese employer—who he served as a driver and translator—from NagaWorld to his rented home in Tuol Kok district. The assailants shot the Cambodian man in the neck as he tried to stop them stealing a bag containing the Chinese man’s winnings.

“Suspect Sok Na confessed that he and his partners first robbed the Chi­nese businessman and shot dead his translator last year in Tuol Kok. That time he took $16,000 and divided it up with two others,” Maj. Gen Sinarith said, before adding that Mr. Na was taken to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week and was now in pretrial detention at Prey Sar prison.

NagaWorld—which employs a formidable security staff and sees billions of dollars worth of bets placed at its tables each year—has consistently declined to speak publicly about how the gang were able operate, apparently undetected, within the casino.

“I can’t comment on that,” said Sopheak Hem, senior media executive at NagaWorld.

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