Two Men Arrested for Robbery-Shootings

Two men accused of carrying out a spate of vicious robbery-shootings in Phnom Penh that left a U.S. expatriate and a Japanese tourist hospitalized with gunshot wounds were arrested Monday night following a shootout with police, an official said Tuesday.

Sarak Vath, 25, was arrested in front of the Ministry of Interior on Norodom Boulevard at about 9 p.m. on Monday, and Chea Sovan, 32, was arrested shortly after at the nearby Kbal Thnal overpass, according to Phnom Penh deputy police chief Chuon Narin.

Brigadier General Narin said that when Mr. Sovan was confronted by police, he opened fire, and police shot back, hitting him four times before making the arrest. Mr. Sovan was then sent to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital to have two of the bullets lodged in his torso removed.

He added that besides the shootings of the Japanese woman and American man late last month, the men had also been involved in six other robberies, including another robbery-shooting, and said that police had been following the two on Monday night after identifying them as suspects in the crimes.

“Sarak Vath confessed that they committed eight robberies in the city and shot three victims including a Japanese woman, an American man, and a Cambodian wom­an,” Brig. Gen. Narin said.

“They used Chinese made handguns in order to rob both of the foreigners, but only [Mr. Sovan] shot them,” he added.

Brig. Gen. Narin said that the accused gunman had used a K-54 handgun and K-59 handgun to shoot the foreigners, and that police had confiscated the guns along with 16 bullets.

U.S. construction consultant Maurice Law, 57, was shot in the groin on September 27 after he and his wife were robbed by two men on a motorcycle while walking home in Chamkar Mon district.

Japanese tourist Sakiko Takayanagi was shot in the leg the following night while attempting to resist a robbery by two men, also on a motorcycle, near the Night Market in Daun Penh district.

Mr. Law, who was still recovering Tuesday, said that neither he nor his wife had been contacted by police in relation to the arrest, but said it was “good news.”

He added that due to the shock of the incident, the couple would be unlikely to be able to identify the men arrested or the weapons they used if called upon to do so.

“We’ve never had this experience so we didn’t know what to look for,” he said

Mr. Sovan remained hospitalized Tuesday evening and Mr. Vath will appear before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today.

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