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Sunken Boat in Sihanoukville Was Carrying Illegal Immigrants, Suspects to Be Sent to Court

SIHANOUKVILLE: The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior has said the boat which sunk in Sihanoukville on 22 September was smuggling people from China into Cambodia. Currently, at least six suspects have been taken into custody to face court proceedings.

Speaking to the press on Thursday, 29 September, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Khieu Sopheak, said that after authorities investigated the boat sinking in Sihanoukville, they found that it was being used to smuggle illegal immigrants from China into Cambodia.

The boat sinking accident occurred on 22 September, in the waters between Koh Rong Samloem and Koh Tang in Sihanoukville Province. The boat was carrying a total of 43 people, including 41 Chinese nationals and two Cambodians.

Upon receiving an alert about the boat’s sinking, the specialized force of the Sihanoukville Provincial Police, in cooperation with the Water Border Police Force, were dispatched to try and rescue victims. 24 people were subsequently rescued by Cambodian authorities, including three who were found dead, while rescue teams from Vietnam managed to rescue an additional 17 people, including eight dead.

The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior added that after thorough interrogation and investigation, the police arrested six suspects, including one Chinese national and five Cambodians, in connection to this case of immigrant smuggling.

The six suspects are 55-year-old Pan Xing Wei (has a fish and diesel business in Sihanoukville), 46-year-old Nhim Sakhorn (a seafood and diesel seller), 29 year-old-Kea Phea (boat driver), 32-year-old Soeun Mao (boat worker), 40-year-old Nuon Nin (boat driver) and 42-year-old Yoeun Yin (boat worker).

The Spokesperson confirmed that the six suspects had been referred to the Sihanoukville Provincial Court for legal action on Thursday, 29 September.

Among the 30 Chinese nationals who were rescued by authorities, five were also suspected to be connected to cases of illegal immigration from China to Cambodia. However, all victims were handed over to the Chinese Embassy.

The five Chinese men who were suspected to be connected to cases of illegal immigration from China reportedly did not hold passports.

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