A Thai national was sent to Bat-tambang Provincial Court on Sun-day morning on suspicion of kidnapping three fellow Thais, police said Sunday.
The man was arrested Friday af-ternoon in a home in Ratanak commune’s Romchek Muoy village, said Battambang town police chief Touch Ra. Police raided the house after villagers became suspicious of their new neighbors, he added.
“We had to take all the Thai nationals to the provincial police office after police got into the house, because they all spoke Thai and we did not know who the perpetrator was,” he said, explaining that there were Thai-speaking officers at the provincial police headquarters.
The police chief found out only after the arrest that one man was apparently holding the other three —two women and a man—hos-tage, he said.
Provincial police chief Sar Thet and his deputy So Sam An both said by telephone Sunday that one Thai national had been sent to Bat-tambang court. They both declined to comment further, and would not say what became of the other three.
Provincial Prosecutor Sar Yost-havvrak declined to comment be-cause he was away in Pailin pro-vince and not familiar with the case.
The Khmer-language newspaper Kampuchea Thmey on Sunday identified the three hostages as Phak Rada, a 55-year-old woman, for whom kidnappers demanded 1 million baht ($28,000); Nano, a 37-year-old woman, for whom they wanted 6 million baht ($168,000); and Sy Vakphun, a 23-year-old man. In addition, the kidnappers demanded 50,000 baht more per day until they received the ransoms, the newspaper reported.
A man named Reaksmei Thary-sot, who eluded police, apparently convinced the three to gamble in a Poipet casino, from which they were taken to Battambang, the newspaper reported. It also identified the man arrested as Mai, a 30-year-old man living in Bangkok.
An officer at the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, who declined to be named, said the embassy would contact Battambang authorities first thing this morning.
“We have not yet been notified or informed of this incident, of this capture,” he said Sunday afternoon.
(Additional reporting by Isabelle Roughol)