Cambodia: Gunmen storm dental clinic to free Chinese convict

The Police took six suspects in custody on Friday after five armed men stormed into a private dental clinic in Cambodia to free a Chinese convict, Cambodian police said, according to the Voice of America (VOA). The 45-year-old Chen Hsin Han was serving a 52-year sentence for drug trafficking, remains at large, said Teng Channath, the Siem Reap provincial police chief. Police did not explain why the suspects in custody outnumbered the people who stormed the clinic.

Four prison guards had escorted the inmate Thursday morning to a dentist in Siem Reap City, according to a prison letter and closed-circuit TV footage from the dental facility, VOA reported. Chen was arrested on February 11, 2009. He had a toothache that made it difficult for him to eat, according to prison documents, VOA reported.

The dental office video showed five people whose faces were covered pointing guns at four prison guards in the clinic. The footage was shared widely on social media, VOA reported. Soeng Senkaruna, the spokesperson for local human rights group Adhoc, questioned why the prisoner was allowed to get treatment outside the prison and how the gunmen knew about the time of the treatment.

“The prison officials knew that the prisoner was sentenced to more than 50 years in jail. Thus, they should have been more careful,” he told VOA Khmer. “There should be an investigation to find out whether there was collusion,” he added.

A 2021 Global Organized Crime Index profile of Cambodia says the country’s “porous borders and corrupt and underdeveloped law enforcement structures” have contributed to drug trafficking. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported that same year that drug lords had established meth labs in Cambodia, far from their traditional base in the Golden Triangle, a lawless area where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and China intersect.

Chum Chenda, the dental clinic owner, said the gunmen stormed into his business around 8 a.m. He said the armed men tied up police officers’ hands and left with the prisoner. There were no gunshots or injuries, he said. ”Criminals had guns in their hands behind the police. They are about one meter away from me. … I pretended to not know anything. When I turned to the police, they [the gunmen] were all gone,” Chum Chenda told VOA Khmer by telephone on Thursday.

According to government-aligned news outlet Freshnews, the gunmen left the clinic in a Lexus 330 SUV. Police found the vehicle, guns and other related evidence on the outskirts of Siem Reap. VOA Khmer contacted Da Chamroeun, Siem Reap city police chief, Thursday and Friday. He declined to comment.

Nouth Savna, spokesman for the General Department of Prisons, confirmed the arrests of six people but made no further comments. “I have only this information. The competent authorities are now investigating further,” he told VOA Khmer on Friday.

Phean Chhorvan, director of the Siem Reap provincial prison, told VOA Khmer on Thursday that he didn’t have clear information about the case. (ANI)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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