Three Arrested in Fatal Betrayal, Robbery of Cassava Trader

Two Mondolkiri men were jailed on murder charges in neighboring Kratie province on Friday after fatally shooting a wealthy cassava farmer during an armed robbery facilitated by the victim’s friend, who was charged as an ac­complice, police said.

Soeu Pheara, the 41-year-old owner of a cassava plantation in Kratie’s Snuol district, was shot once in the chest on Tuesday evening and died en route to a local hospital, said Huot Lim Heang, chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau.

On Tuesday afternoon, he said, the farmer had been drinking at a neighbor’s house with his friend Sren Lang, 34, and two of Mr. Lang’s acquaintances from Mondolkiri province: Heng Vy, 37 and Oeun Phe, 25.

“When the victim drank too much beer, he went back to sleep on a bed inside his house and did not know anything about the plan to rob him,” he said.

Mr. Lang, the bureau chief explained, had agreed to help the out-of-towners rob Soeu Pheara in exchange for a cut of the money, and drove the pair to the farmer’s house in Sre Cha commune at about 7:30 p.m.

“When the two men went into his house, the victim woke up and asked, ‘Why did you come to my house? Why did you bring a weapon?’”

Mr. Vy responded by shooting Soeu Pheara once in the chest with an AK-47 assault rifle, while the younger Mr. Phe rushed into the victim’s bedroom in search of cash, Mr. Lim Heang said.

The farmer’s wife heard the shot and hid in a chicken coop with her children as the men ransacked the house, eventually coming up with just $500 in cash—far less than what they had hoped to find, he said.

After the suspects fled the scene, Soeu Pheara was rushed to the provincial referral hospital by relatives and neighbors but bled to death before he arrived, he added.

On Wednesday morning, police arrested Mr. Lang at his home in the commune, the bureau chief said, explaining that residents had seen him deliver the robbers to the farmer’s house the night before.

On Thursday afternoon, officers tracked the other two suspects to Mr. Vy’s house in Mon­dolkiri’s Keo Seima district, he said.

“We also made the suspects take us to where they hid the AK [47], about 300 [meters] from the scene in the forest. We also found 11 bullets inside the gun,” he said, adding that Mr. Vy said he himself had found the rifle in the forest nine years earlier.

All three suspects were sent to the Kratie Provincial Court on Friday afternoon, according to deputy provincial police chief Oum Phy. Mr. Vy and Mr. Phe were charged with theft and premeditated murder, while Mr. Lang was charged as an accomplice to the crimes, he said.

“They’ve already been sent to prison,”

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