Adhoc Says Ratanakkiri Murder Covered Up

Rights group Adhoc has accused authorities in Ratanakkiri province of covering up the murder on Thursday of a 35-year-old man who was shot once through each eye while allegedly attempting to log rosewood in the area.

Adhoc called for provincial police and government authorities to carry out a full investigation into the death of Nhong Chut from Taveng Krom commune, Taveng district, to ensure that whoever is responsible is brought to justice.

The group has also said that the victim’s body was buried at the scene after police claimed he had committed suicide.

“Adhoc’s preliminary investigation and witness testimony shows that the death of Nhong Chut is a murder case and could not have been suicide because the body had bullet wounds in each eye and the victim would not have been able to shoot himself twice in the eyes,” the group said in a statement.

The statement explains that the victim was murdered while searching with his friend, Ny Khat Khong, for rosewood in a forest near Khaang village.

Mr. Khong had separated from his friend to look for the prized luxury wood in a different part of the forest when he heard the shots, said Chhay Thy, Adhoc provincial monitor.

“When he heard the sound, he went to find his friend and saw the man lying on the ground with a gun lying next to him, then ran out of the forest and alerted villagers,” he said.

The statement says that when authorities arrived at the scene they quickly buried the body and failed to either take photographs or look for any evidence.

“The authorities’ conclusion that this was a suicide case was intended to cover up a murder and shows the level of impunity in Cambodia,” the statement adds.

Provincial police chief Ray Rai denied that his officers had covered up a crime and insisted that nothing about the case pointed to murder.

“We don’t know why he killed himself but after questioning the family we learned that he had psychological problems, which led us to conclude that he shot himself through his right eye with an old AK-47,” Mr. Rai said.

“We had to bury him at the location because it was so far from his village,” he added.

Khea Ngam, the 26-year-old sister of the victim, confirmed that her brother had gone into the forest with his friend to look for rosewood, but disagreed with the police’s version of events.

“My brother has never owned a gun, he has never even had a fight with anyone in the village. I do not know how he could possibly have shot himself in both eyes.”

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