Suspected Purse Thief Escapes From Municipal Court

A suspected thief escaped from a holding cell at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after police forgot to close the door upon escorting several other suspects from the room, an official said.

Sman Olovy, 27, an unemployed man with a history of drug use, was arrested at about 3 a.m. on Saturday after his neighbor in Chbar Ampov district woke shortly after midnight and caught him stealing her purse, according to deputy district police chief Mao Seut.

Mr. Olovy was due to be questioned at the municipal court on Monday morning, he said. When two officers escorted another suspect from a holding cell on the ground floor, they left Mr. Olovy in the care of a third Chbar Ampov officer and others from a different jurisdiction, the deputy chief said.

“When officers from another district unlocked the door to get their suspects, they might not have locked the door again,” he said.

The offending officer from Chbar Ampov, who was still standing guard outside the holding cell yesterday afternoon and asked not to be named for fear of punishment, admitted to briefly neglecting his duty.

“I asked police from Chroy Changva district to look after him for a short while because I wanted to buy a bottle of water​,” he said. “We know we were careless.”

Mr. Seut said police were searching for the escapee. “Now, we are trying to track him down through his relatives.”

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