Two suspects who were detained in connection with the abduction of an opposition parliamentarian have filed complaints against high-ranking police officials, saying they were threatened and forced to confess to crimes they did not commit.
Sros Phakdei and Ban Srei Mom were detained last week and asked questions about the kidnapping of Lon Phon, a member of the Sam Rainsy Party who was released Oct 9, three days after being kidnapped by armed men outside his Phnom Penh home.
Sros Phakdei, a customs officer, said he and his fiancee, Ban Srei Mom, a beauty salon owner, were wrongfully arrested. Ban Srei Mom is seeking $50,000 and $10,000 in compensation and damages, and Sros Phakdei wants $50,000 and $5,000.
Sros Phakdei, 30, told reporters Wednesday that he is seeking justice through the complaint, which was filed with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice.
“I want the real kidnappers to be arrested so I can have my good reputation back,” said Sros Phakdei, who added he was politically neutral and did not know why he and his fiancee were targeted by police. “Everyone gossips about me now.”
Both Ban Srei Mom and Sros Phakdei were detained in the morning of Oct 12. Ban Srei Mom was released later that night and Sros Phakdei was let go in the afternoon of the next day.
Those accused in the complaint include Bit Kimhong, deputy municipal police chief, and Ek Kreth, chief of the city’s judicial police.
Bit Kim Hong said Ban Srei Mom and Sros Phakdei were detained and questioned because Lon Phon’s wife suspected them of being involved in the kidnapping of Lon Phon. He said Ban Srei Mom and Sros Phakdei were in the gem business with Lon Phon’s wife.
“They were questioned and then they went home,” Bit Kim Hong said. “There were no arrests made.”
But Sros Phakdei said neither he nor his fiancee were in the gem trade.
Sros Phakdei said he did not know Lon Phon and has only seen Lon Phon’s wife. He said his fiancee knows Lon Phon’s family, but does not know what their relationship is. Ban Srei Mom could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Another official mentioned in the complaint is Mok Chito, who has been reassigned to work as an administrative assistant at the National Police headquarters after being suspended last year as head of the municipality’s foreigner’s police because another police official accused him of ordering several killings in Phnom Penh.
“During the interrogation, Mok Chito threatened to handcuff me and throw me in the trunk of a car and drive me around to city, hit my ear, and forced me to say that I am a mastermind of a kidnap,” Sros Phakdei said in his complaint.
Sros Phakdei said police officials accused him and Ban Srei Mom of being masterminds of kidnapping Lon Phon, and when they were released, both were told to tell others that the police were confused and held the wrong people.
Lon Phon was released after his family paid a ransom. Officially, $140,000 was paid, a substantial amount of which was loaned from unnamed government officials.
Some opposition party members called the kidnapping a case of political intimidation, but the government has denied it. Lon Phon said he does not know why he was targeted.
General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said Wednesday that he had not yet seen the two complaints, but said Ban Srei Mom and Sros Phakdei were only questioned, not arrested.
Khieu Sopheak also said progress has been made in the Lon Phon case and, hopefully, suspects will be arrested soon.