Vision Publisher Denies Charge of Extortion

A former newspaper publisher has denied he conspired to extort money from a Phnom Penh casino, but admitted he had been threatened by subversives trying to force him to act as a go-be­tween in the scheme.

Police on Thursday arrested T Mohan for allegedly trying to extort $5,000 from an executive at the Naga Casino on behalf of the shadowy—and some say nonexistent—rebel group, Khmer Serey.

Under interrogation, police claim, T Mohan confessed to conspiring to blackmail Naga Vice President Song Meng Kong, who police said received threatening e-mails demanding $5,000.

But T Mohan, who was publisher of The Vision until the pa­per closed in June, denied he ever confessed to the crime.

Through a statement released last week, Naga has denied any sort of feud between T Mohan and casino management.

T Mohan said he received two e-mails Wednesday from a man he knew only as Huot, an alleged Khmer Serey leader living in the US whom T Mohan met briefly last year at Phnom Penh’s Hotel Le Royal.

One was a forwarded copy of a letter from Song Meng Kong to Huot, he said. “It said things like ‘this is the first time for me. I don’t know what to do,’ ” T Mohan said. “It didn’t say anything about extortion or money.”

The second was addressed di­rectly to T Mohan, asking him to conduct a “transaction” for Huot, and adding mysteriously, “did you like the two presents I sent you?”

T Mohan then returned home, he said. A few minutes later a moto-taxi driver came to his door to deliver an unmarked envelope containing two bullets.

Later that evening, he went to see Song Meng Kong to ask him what was going on, T Mohan said. “He said he would handle it. He said he knew what to do.”

On Thursday morning, T Mo­han was arrested. He was released Sun­day pending further investigation.

T Mohan said he believes Huot con­tacted him because he worked for Naga between 1993 and 1995. He said he met Khmer Serey members in the course of his work as a journalist, and is not involved in the organization.

 

 

 

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