KUCHING, Feb 12 — The Cambodian Justice Ministry will look into the case of 47 Malaysians detained in Banteay Meanchey provisional prison over suspicions of fraud and running an illegal gambling operation in Poipet city, it was reported today.
This follows a request from the Malaysian Embassy for the justice ministry to check and intervene in this case.
“Our ministry will check on this case,” the ministry spokesman Chin Malin told the Khmer Times.
Malin said action will be taken based on existing laws and procedures.
Malin said the ministry received a letter from the Malaysian Embassy yesterday afternoon.
He said Justice Minister Vong Vathana has not met with any official from the Malaysian embassy.
On Thursday, the Malaysian Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that it was in touch with provincial police.
The Malaysian embassy has brought this matter to the attention of the Cambodian Foreign Affairs Ministry via a diplomatic note to release the detainees.
The detainees, consisting of 44 from Sarawak and three from other parts of Malaysia, and aged between 19 and 44, have been imprisoned since they were arrested in December last year.
The detention prompted the Malaysian embassy to submit a letter to the Justice Ministry calling for their release.
Lieutenant Colonel Khem Sophoan, chief of the provincial police’s minor crime bureau, quoted by Khmer Times, said a total of 55 people were arrested during a raid on a gambling den.
He said the provincial police received a report from its intelligence officers that the detainees were running an online gambling operation.
Armed with a search warrant, the police took more than an hour to breach a house used as a gambling den as the doors was locked and the suspects hid in the basement of the house.
He also claimed that the detainees had destroyed their hard drives from six or seven computers and upon being questioned, they denied they have committed any crime.
Lt Col Sophoan said the 55 people snared in the raid included eight Chinese nationals.
He said several of the Chinese suspects were released after a request was made by lawyers.
Last week, a source told the Khmer Times that the 47 Malaysians were promised US$1,500 per month to work in Cambodia, but were instead treated like bonded slaves.
The paper said the Malaysians were made to work from 8am to 4pm daily, learning on a tablet how online gambling works and were not allowed to go out or speak to anyone outside of the house.