Cambodian sailors 'forced to jump into sea' settle case with Russian tycoon Sergei Polonsky

Crew withdraw their accusations after agreeing £12,500 compensation deal

Sihanoukville

Six Cambodian seamen who were allegedly forced to leap into the ocean at knifepoint by a Russian tycoon have withdrawn their accusations after agreeing a compensation deal worth a total of $20,000 (£12,500).

Ouch Sopheaktra, a lawyer for the crew members, said the men had withdrawn their charges against Sergei Polonsky earlier this week after agreeing a payout. “The victims withdrew their lawsuits on 10 January and they have been compensated $20,000,” he said. “I have no idea if the court will release the Russian men very soon because the court has their own legal way to decide what to do next.”

Mr Polonsky was arrested by the Cambodian authorities along with two friends, Konstantin Baglay and Alexander Karachinsky, and charged with “intentional violence” and illegal detention after the sailors were forced into the ocean off the coast at Sihanoukville on the night of 30 December. If convicted, they could face up to three years in jail.

Reports said the incident happened after a fireworks party being held on Koh Rong island and attended by Mr Polonsky and his friends, attracted the attention of a nearby military base. When a boat was dispatched to check, Mr Polonsky apparently offered to accompany the boat to the mainland to collect his documents. At some point, the sailors were allegedly forced into the sea where they were rescued by local fishermen.

A statement released on Mr Polonsky’s behalf when the incident happened said: “Unfortunately, the language barrier between both parties led to some tension as Mr Polonsky and his friends were taken to the military base by force.”

On social media, Mr Polonsky insisted he would not plead guilty to the allegations levelled at him. He said: “I could have gone free after 15 minutes if I had pleaded guilty.”

The 40-year-old tycoon made his money in the construction industry, though he suffered major financial losses in the 2008 crisis and had to abandon his plans to build what would have been Europe’s tallest building in Moscow. He moved to Cambodia last year and established himself in the south-western coastal resort of Sihanoukville.

There are suggestions in Moscow that he may have fled to Cambodia in order to avoid a potential court case against creditors who say he owes them millions of dollars. Russian media have reported that Mr Polonsky has written to the king of Cambodia asking for citizenship of the country after his release and promising major investment in the economy.

His company is said to be part-owner of Koh Dek Kuol, a private island that his company has developed as the Mirax luxury resort.

Last year, Mr Polonsky was involved in an incident when he was punched on live television by Alexander Lebedev, the father of Evgeny Lebedev, proprieter of The Independent. Mr Lebedev has been charged with hooliganism and battery and his trial is scheduled to begin shortly.

Although the sailors have dropped their claims against Mr Polonsky it is not clear what has happened to the formal charges that were levelled against him and he and his friends remain in jail. Prosecutor Huot Vicheth said today that the case was now being dealt with by an investigating judge.

The Russian embassy in Phnom Penh failed to respond to queries.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power