Accused Sorcerer Flees Amid Threats to Life

An ethnic Jarai man accused of sorcery by his neighbors in Ratanakkiri province’s Bakeo district fled his home on Sunday after his brother allegedly tried to kill him.

District police on Friday warned a group of locals not to use violence against the man, Rocham Kin, 48, after they reportedly made death threats against him over a series of mysterious deaths in Kak commune’s Chrung village.

On the same day, Mr. Kin claimed his brother-in-law told him that he would be killed if he did not leave his home in the village within three days and his older brother, Rocham Tin, put a knife to his throat. “He accused me of using magic to make his children sick,” he said at the time.

Mr. Kin said Monday that another older brother, Rocham Tun, tried to strangle him on Saturday.

“I got a cut on my neck from his nails and there are bruises on my neck where he strangled me,” Mr. Kin said by telephone Monday from his cousin’s farm in Ratanakkiri’s O’Yadaw district, some 50 km from his village.

“He tried to kill me, but I was able to escape from him. That is why I had to flee on Sunday.”

Deputy district police chief Saing Sok said Monday that his officers had twice warned Mr. Kin’s neighbors not to attack him.

“After being educated, the angry villagers who have lost children and brothers and sisters calmed down and promised not to harm the suspected sorcerer. But they still want him expelled from the village,” he said.

According to Mr. Sok, seven men in Chrung village have mysteriously died since the start of the year. The men, he said, had once refused to allow Mr. Kin to join their drinking party.

“Most of the sick men suffered seriously swollen penises and later died, despite seeking medical treatment at the provincial referral hospital,” he said.

Mr. Kin said both of his older brothers have accused him of making their children ill with protiel, a plant similar to ginger that some minority groups believe consumes the life of humans who eat it.

“I used to store protiel, but I threw it away after being accused of using it to make people die.”

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