Thai Woman Detained in Poipet Released

A Thai woman detained without charge by Cambodian immigration officials in Poipet Satur­day night was released the next morning, officials said Monday.

Thailand’s Nation newspaper reported Monday that the wo­man, Monchata Paenkaew, 32, was “apparently held hostage” in an apparent bid to exchange her for two South Korean men—one of whom was her husband—after the men crossed into Poipet on Saturday and won about $120,000 at the Grand Diamond City casino.

But, on Monday, a Cambodian immigration official said the woman was taken in for questioning about her ties to the South Ko­reans, who are allegedly wanted by Interpol for a Singaporean credit card scam.

Monchata was accused of re­questing visas for four South Korean men, said Men Keng Ly, Poipet International Checkpoint immigration police chief, who confirmed that two of the men are suspected of the credit card scam.

Men Keng Ly denied that the woman was held hostage and said he was unaware of the casino winnings reported by The Nation.

While Monchata was applying for the Cambodian visas, police recognized the suspects’ names and asked her to stay for questioning, Men Keng Ly said. She was not “detained,” he added.

“We did not handcuff her,” Men Keng Ly said. “We kept her in an air-conditioned room. We just invited her for questioning.”

He said the woman was re­leased Sunday morning.

Thai Embassy Second Sec­retary Songchai Chaipatiyut confirmed Monday that the wo­man had returned to Thailand. It is illegal for a Thai national to be held in Cambodia without charges, Thai Embassy press officer Surasak Suparate said Mon­day.

A Cambodian immigration official, who declined to be named, said Monday the men were later arrested in Thailand after they crossed back across the border, though Cambodian officials had kept their passports. The official said police are asking they be deported for prosecution in Cam­bodia. The official said the men are suspected of spending $2 million to $7 million using fake Sing­a­porean credit cards.

(Additional reporting by Jennifer Collins)


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