Former Kun Khmer Boxer Faces Charges in Sihanoukville Compound Raid

5 min read
A police van enters the gates to Jing Gang compound in Sihanoukville’s Buon commune on April 29, 2022. (Mech Dara/VOD)
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A Cambodian boxing coach is among a group of Cambodians and Chinese facing charges from the covert raid of Sihanoukville’s Jin Gang casino in April, from which more than 200 Vietnamese nationals were released.

Chin Pea Rieng, a former kun khmer boxer also known as Chin Ra, was named among five people who were arrested and soon to be tried in connection to an operation involving arrests and rescues at Jin Gang casino in Sihanoukville’s Buon commune in April. 

Videos from Vietnamese users on TikTok suggest that the April raid was a rescue operation at an online scam compound, where foreigners are detained and subjected to extensive hours of work and sometimes physical punishment and torture. 

Provincial court spokesperson Ly Chandara told VOD on Monday that the five were charged with possession of illegal weapons and illegal detention and confinement, and they would be tried soon, though he didn’t specify a date. 

“The schedule is in the hands of the judge. What I have been told is that [the judge] will schedule it as soon as possible,” he said. 

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court released a letter on August 10, which it said was in response to a video about Pea Rieng posted to the official YouTube page of Pich Choronai, a bokator fighter, performer and content creator. 

The court sought to clarify that Pea Rieng was arrested for allegedly detaining people in a hotel in his job as a security guard and “not involved in the training of Khmer martial arts by Chin Ra.”

Citing a Preah Sihanouk Provincial Police report, authorities searched the Jin Gang compound on April 21 at about 10 a.m. and found weapons in a room on the second floor. Two people detained inside the compound were also released. 

Authorities confiscated a Sig Sauer pistol kept in a safe, 16 bullets, an electric shock baton, handcuffs, and a chair with chains attached that was cemented into the floor. 

Though the safe was owned by a Chinese suspect named Weng Gao Yang, Weng claimed to authorities that the pistol was owned by Pea Rieng, who was preventing people from escaping the compound, according to the document. 

The court then said it opened an investigation into the case on April 24, arresting all five suspects including Pea Rieng without bail. 

The letter ended by reemphasizing that Pea Rieng was arrested in relation to the raid. 

“That is a criminal offense, and this case is not related to the training by this person in 

Khmer martial arts, as published by some media outlets and Youtube pages,” the letter said. 

Choronai, the fighter and content creator, posted about the case to her Facebook twice, saying Pea Rieng was blamed by a Chinese suspect’s lawyer and was now the sole person imprisoned on the charges. She called for Prime Minister Hun Sen to give justice to Pea Rieng. 

“He was imprisoned because he bore the brunt of the Chinese [suspects’ actions] who he trained in Khmer martial arts!” she wrote, adding he had been in prison for four months. 

On Friday she posted a second video — a selfie shot of her speaking inside her car — in which she says she had visited Pea Rieng to learn more about the case. 

“Frankly speaking, because I have received words from Chin Ra and I went to see him directly and heard his words from when they contacted him to work until arresting him, 

I do not make any accusations for any side. I just want to bring Chin Ra to be heard,” she says in the video. 

She also recounts the scenario as relayed by Pea Rieng. The boxer was hired around early April to teach two hours of Khmer martial arts to Chinese nationals during the day, she said, and then watch live security camera footage from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. to ensure the people inside were not fighting or stealing. 

According to her, Pea Rieng was asked to live in the compound but he did not have a security uniform nor was he guarding the outside gate. 

“Through my understanding, he was also a victim in that they had cheated him out of work there, and he tolerated poor living conditions.”

She said he had only been at the compound working for almost 20 days before he was arrested amid the raid. 

“As a Cambodian person, I cannot sit still,” she said. “Even though the case has nothing to do with me, when a Cambodian person has suffered injustice…he told me that what was difficult for him, was that when he went to work there, they restricted his rights and freedom. Even if he just wanted to cross [the street] from his workplace to another [place], he was also banned and they do not allow him to go anywhere besides his workplace.”

Another kun khmer fighter, Vong Noy, posted on August 4 seeking support from Cambodian social media to share his posts and raise Pea Rieng’s case to the attention of Hun Sen and other powerful individuals.

“If brothers and sisters do not share with our brothers and sisters who are excellencies and have power, brother Chin Ra will be in prison for many years, so I beg brothers and sisters to help share,” he said in the post. “I heard he cried every night [in jail].”

He also contributed alleged details of Pea Rieng’s employment, adding that the imprisoned boxer had taken leave from another job and worked at Jin Gang for a small cash boost. 

Noy again suggested that Pea Rieng was being framed as a scapegoat for Chinese nationals, and he asked a more powerful person for help in proving his innocence. 

“I do not know who would I seek out for help since we are small people,” he said. “When big people want to meet small people it is very easy but when the small people want to meet the big people, it is very difficult so I have to hold up my 10 fingers to ask for help.”

Beyond its likely connection to Cambodia’s rampant and brutal online scam industry, Jin Gang casino has been fraught from its foundation. Both Chinese and Cambodian construction workers in 2019 blocked a Buon commune road in protest because their boss hadn’t paid wages in full. 

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s son and army commander Hun Manet attended the groundbreaking of Jin Gang casino in March 2018.

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