The patriarchs of two families were found dead in Takeo province on Monday night after a heated argument during a religious ceremony led to the murder of the men and the arrest of their siblings, according to police and a local official.
The once-friendly families began bickering about an unknown subject over the weekend and continued to squabble during a local ceremony to mark the end of the rice harvest, which was held in a field behind their homes in Bati district’s Champei commune on Monday evening, according to deputy district police chief Khut Lo, who is investigating the case.
While the heads of the two families—fruit trader Sum Sinoeun, 37, and rice farmer Em Kat, 34—initially stayed out of the argument, they were eventually dragged into a public shouting match that pitted the merchant, his wife and his teenage brother against the farmer, his wife and his adult sister, Mr. Lo said.
“First, two ladies started arguing again and were fighting with support from the husbands and siblings on both sides,” he said. At about 11 p.m., he added, “they were broken up and sent back to their homes.”
But while Em Kat and his relations returned home as advised, Sum Sinoeun and his family did not, quietly following the farmer to his house, where the dispute descended into a deadly six-person brawl, the police official said.
“They fought each other, and Sinoeun fought with Em Kat until both of them died at the scene,” he said, explaining the police were alerted to the incident by villagers who witnessed the two families walk into the same house.
While investigators recovered a wooden stick believed to have been used to bludgeon Sum Sinoeun to death, he said, there was no sign of the sharp object likely used to stab Em Kat in the chest.
On Tuesday morning, Mr. Lo said, Sum Sinoeun’s brother, Sum Mony, 18, and Em Kat’s sister, Em Pov, 32, were summoned to the district police station, arrested on the spot and sent to the provincial police headquarters for further questioning.
“Actually, the wives should be arrested, too, but we will let them finish with their husbands’ funerals,” he said.
Mr. Lo clarified that whether the women would be arrested would ultimately be decided by the provincial court.