Cambodian casino releases Vietnamese girl it kept as ransom

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A 13-year-old girl, who had been detained in a Cambodian casino as ransom for her father's gambling debts for more than a month, was released on December 26, the Sai Gon Tiep Thi newspaper reported.

Nguyen Thi Thuy Kieu of Ho Chi Minh City's Cu Chi District was released after successful negotiation between her family and the casino.

She is in stable condition and has returned to school, the family said.

Kieu was kidnapped and taken to the Bay Tang Casino on November 18.

Tran Thi Dao, Kieu's grandmother, reported to police that her son, Nguyen Van Lam, was a serious gambling addict. After Lam and his wife separated, Kieu went to live with her grandmother.

On November 18, Kieu did not return home after school as usual. Dao and Dinh Thi Hoa, Kieu's mother, searched for her everywhere to no avail.

That night, Dao received a phone call from an unidentified number, a man claiming that Kieu and Lam were being held captive in the Bay Tang Casino where Lam lost VND100 million (US$4,750) gambling.

The man told Dao she must pay the debt immediately; otherwise interest would be added each day. He threatened to sell Kieu to a brothel in Thailand if the debt was not paid quickly.

Hoa also received a phone call saying her husband voluntarily delivered his daughter to the casino, as collateral or payment for his gambling debts.

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According to Dao, three days before Kieu went missing, two men went to Lam's house and he left home with them.

On the morning of November 18, Kieu was at school when Lam picked her up, according to a teacher.

According to the Sai Gon Tiep Thi, Lam is still being detained in Cambodia.

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