Five Chinese nationals suspected of involvement in the brutal murder of their housemate last week were released by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday due to a lack of evidence.
Kham Sophary, a deputy prosecutor at the court, said that although the suspects had been freed, the investigating judge would continue searching for evidence to link them to the murder of Chen Huaying, 25, on the evening of November 15.
“We released them because the initial investigation did not reveal any clear information,” Mr. Sophary said. He said the five were released after promising to remain in the country and appear before the court when summoned, adding that their passports had been confiscated.
The deputy prosecutor named the suspects as Yang Peipei, 24, and Zhao Chunxi, 50, both females, and Luozai Jun, 43; Zeng Wenxuan, 52; and Xufuju, 57.
According to police, the five were arrested on the day of the murder after two of them found the body of Chen Huaying, pocked with knife wounds, in her bedroom at their shared apartment in the Borey New Town housing development on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
On Thursday, police said they had identified one of Chen Hua ying’s two female roommates as the killer, based on her admission that she stole the two knives used in the murder from the other woman, the group’s designated cook.
Although police are only allowed to hold suspects for 72 hours, the five spent eight nights at the Pur Senchey district police station, which investigators have blamed on the Chinese Embassy for not providing translators in a timely fashion.
Leng Veasna, deputy chief of the district’s penal police, said on Monday that he did not know why the five had been freed, putting the decision down to “court procedure.”
His boss, Chea Sovann, however, speculated that their release may have been partially organized by the Chinese Embassy.
“There might have been an intervention by their embassy,” he said, adding that police were continuing to search for Chen Huaying’s killer.