Body Found Hanging in Sihanoukville’s Alleged Slave-Compound Area

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A police station outside the ‘Chinatown’ area of Sihanoukville, in November 2021. (Cindy Liu/VOD)
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National Police ruled that a Cambodian security guard’s corpse found hanging in Sihanoukville’s notorious “Chinatown” compounds was death by suicide.

The area, near the coastal city’s O’Tres beach, has been alleged by human-trafficking victims to be the site of forced labor and enslavement, where foreign nationals are made to perpetrate global online scams.

In a statement issued Thursday, National Police said the body of Thoeun Thep, 25, was found on Saturday at Building 23 in “Chinatown.”

Co-workers had testified that Thep went to urinate on the sixth floor around 5 a.m., but was found hanging about 20 minutes later.

Authorities concluded that the man, who had no bruises when found, had killed himself. The body had been handed over to his family in Battambang province, National Police said.

“The provincial police headquarters would like to reject all false information that pollutes society without a clear basis. In any case of polluted news being spread, the headquarters will investigate that person to be held accountable before the law,” the statement added.

A recent report of a “blood slave,” in which a Chinese forced-labor victim claimed to have had his blood harvested when he refused to work, has sparked denials by police, who arrested the victim, a human-trafficking rescuer and two others for allegedly fabricating the story. Officials have said such reports tarnished Cambodia’s international reputation.

Buon commune police chief Sam Prak rejected details of the National Police report.

“It isn’t verified yet. They are investigating. There is only information that gives hints about the location and we are investigating to find out about it,” Prak said.

“We are investigating to find it, and we have not yet found the body.”

Asked why National Police had issued the information, Prak said there was much inaccurate information out in society.

“These days, the news is very difficult for us. It’s like Ukraine and Russia — 50 percent is fake.”

Sihanoukville city police chief Ky Visal said he did not know about the case.

A local police officer, who asked to not be named, said the body found on the 12th was at a “KB” building. The neighborhood has KB Hotel, a facility owned by prominent businessman Rithy Samnang, and victims have spoken of nearby slave compounds being referred to by the same name in Chinese.

The officer added that the area was hard to police.

“These places don’t allow us to go in,” he said. “When we get information, we investigate and question others.

He said he could not recall how many deaths and suicides there had been in the compounds.

“I forget it because there are so many, and I don’t know which is which. Some cases we know, while others we don’t know about,” the officer said.

KB Hotel did not answer a call from a reporter.

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