Vietnamese gambler supposedly dead at Cambodian casino

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Vietnamese border guards are investigating a case in which a Vietnamese gambler is suspected of killing himself by jumping out of a window at a Cambodian casino where he was kept by his lenders , Lao Dong newspaper reported.

Colonel Le Duc Hanh, deputy chief of Long An Province Border Guard Department, told Lao Dong that a man told border guards he had witnessed the death of the Vietnamese gambler in Casino Las Vegas in Bavet - an international border gate belonging to Svay Rieng province, Cambodia.

The man, who introduced himself as a gambler who had just escaped from the casino, had many bruises on his body, Hanh said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the man said he came to the casino on August 2 and lost all of his money there.

He mortgaged his own life for US$1,000 to gamble but he lost once again.

The man was later detained in a room inside the casino, waiting for his family to pay ransom for him to be released.

He said six other Vietnamese four men and two women were detained in the same room.

The gamblers were frequently beaten up, with Do Thanh Cong, a 34-year-old man from Long An Province, suffering the most because he had been detained for the longest and his family had yet to pay the ransom, according to the man.

"Cong was beaten up several times a day, until he discharged blood from his mouth," the man said.

On the afternoon of August 9, after being severely beaten, Cong and another man named T. (from Vinh Long Province) resisted and broke a glass window with a chair to jump out of the room.

Cong fell off the ground and died on the spot, while T. had his arms and legs broken, according to the man.

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Three days later, while being "escorted" to have lunch, the man ran away.

He managed to get back to Vietnam and visited Cong's house to inform his family of his death.

Investigation needed

According to Colonel Hanh, the Long An Province Border Guard Department had contacted Svay Rieng province authorities, but they denied the death had occurred.

They said there was a Vietnamese gambler who jumped off an apartment at Casino Sato (not Las Vegas as claimed by the Vietnamese gambler) on August 7, but he was not dead.

They said the gambler named T. from Vietnam's Vinh Long Province had his arms and legs broken, according to Colonel Hanh.

They added that Cambodian casinos are under the authority of the central government, not provincial authorities, Colonel Hanh said.

"We will verify this case to bring Cong's body back home, if he is actually dead.

"Vietnamese loan sharks in Cambodian casinos may be involved."

On Monday, Lao Dong reporters visited Cong's house. His wife, Bui Thi Huong, said Cong was a xe om driver and occasionally went to Cambodia casinos for gambling.

On July 20, he came to a casino and called home three days later, asking Huong to bring $2,000 to the casino in exchange for his freedom.

Huong could not afford the ransom. On August 9, a strange man called her and said her husband would end up dead if she didn't pay the ransom.

Huong collected enough money but when she called back she could not reach her husband and the man.

Huong and Cong had five children, with the oldest being 12 years old.

"Since casinos opened near the Moc Bai border gate, my husband used all his money in gambling. He ignored all my advice," she said in tears.

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