Ransom for Cambodian Was $140,000
Oct. 10, 1999
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) _ Still shaken from three days in captivity, a Cambodian lawmaker said Sunday that his family and the government paid a $140,000 ransom to secure his release from armed kidnappers.
Lon Phon, a National Assembly member for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, had been freed the previous night. Four armed men wearing military uniforms had seized him outside his Phnom Penh home last week.
Recovering at a relative's home, Lon Phon said his attackers beat him over the head with a rifle butt and forced him into the trunk of their car.
``It still hurts. I still feel dizzy,'' he said. ``It's very tiring and I want to rest.''
Despite the head wound, Lon Phon said he was generally treated well by his abductors, who kept him blindfolded and handcuffed.
After receiving their ransom, two of the kidnappers drove him from their hideout by motorcycle and released him at Wat Phnom, a hilltop Buddhist pagoda and popular tourist site, Lon Phon said.
The kidnapping occurred amid rising tensions between the government and opposition, sparking accusations from the Sam Rainsy Party that Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party had staged the abduction to intimidate its political rival.
Hun Sen and the police vigorously denied that, insisting the incident was a simple crime connected to Lon Phon's profession as a successful hotel owner.
Dozens of wealthy businessmen have been kidnapped for ransom in recent years, often in cases involving corrupt members of the army and police.
Lon Phon said the kidnappers had initially demanded $400,000 for his release, but his family bargained them down to $140,000, adding that a portion of the ransom had been paid by the government.
Police spokesman Khieu Sopheak confirmed that but would not specify the amount the government paid.