The battered body of a murdered 47-year-old Australian man was discovered in Preah Sihanouk city’s commune 3 on Monday morning, police said yesterday.
Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief Tak Vantha said the body of John Edward Thompson was found near a construction site off a small road in village 1.
“This case is murder. He was hit with long wooden sticks on his left cheekbone and on the top of his head; it left a 6 cm-long skull fracture,” the police chief said.
“We think the victim was killed because of revenge or robbery,” he said, adding that the victim had been visiting and living in the coastal town, better known as Sihanoukville, over the course of several years.
Mr Vantha said the Australian national had opened a business with his Cambodian girlfriend some time ago, but was forced to close it after he could no longer afford rent.
According to Mr Vantha, the victim was homeless and living in a Buddhist pagoda before his murder.
“After he went broke he stayed in the local pagoda,” he said.
“We hope to find the attacker soon because this case cannot go silent. All my colleagues are working on this case,” he added.
Preah Sihanouk city police chief Man Tour said the victim had opened a shop with his former girlfriend Van Lina, 22. According to Mr Tour, Ms Lina told police that after the shop closed and Mr Thompson ran out of money he occasionally would live with her and a Cambodian man, Chup Vannoeun, 23.
Commune 3 police chief Khiev Watha said that he was unsure whether or not the victim had been robbed.
“I saw the victim’s bag was damaged and his possessions such as toothpaste and clothes were strewn around him,” he said. “But I don’t know if he lost any other possessions.”
According to Lok Lymin, deputy chief of the provincial police autopsy unit, the victim died at the scene of the attack at around 1 am Monday morning. He said a representative of the Australian Embassy had taken possession of the victim’s body and it was taken to Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital morgue at noon yesterday.
An Australian Embassy spokesperson said the embassy was aware of the case but could not comment, as the police investigation was still ongoing.
“We are giving consular support to the family in Australia, both from the embassy here and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Australia,” said the official who declined to give her name.
(Additional reporting by Paul Vrieze)