Belgian Accused of Murder Still Detained

The 40-year-old Belgian national who was charged Friday with the murder of a Frenchwoman in Kam­pot province has been detained for almost a week without police having provided any evidence to his legal counsel, his lawyer said Monday.

Olivier Van den Bogaert was arrested and charged late last week with the murder of 25-year-old tourist Ophelie Begnis, more than two months after her battered body was found on the banks of the river in Kampot City on February 10. She was last seen riding away from a guesthouse she was staying at in Toek Chhou district on a bicycle.

Mr. Van den Bogaert’s lawyer, Seng Vuoch Hun, said Monday she had still not received a “copy of record from the police and prosecutor” that warranted her client’s arrest but expected to get it today.

“From what we’ve heard, there are three witnesses from the victim’s side,” Ms. Vuoch Hun said, adding that she had filed a request with the Kampot Provincial Court to delay the investigating procedure so that she could have time to prepare her client and also ascertain certain details, such as his whereabouts on the days that Ophelie Begnis went missing and was found.

“It’s all unclear—his answers are—and he cannot remember clearly about the date,” Ms. Vuoch Hun said, adding that Nop Pheakdey, 30, a friend of the Belgian who was also detained last week and questioned by the police, was a witness she believed could help prove Mr. Van den Bogaert’s innocence.

On Tuesday, police claimed they had found Ophelie Begnis’s bicycle on a durian plantation about 4 km from where her body was found. A senior provincial police officer, who requested anonymity as he is not authorized t­o speak on the case, said that no fingerprints were found on the bicycle as rain had erased them.

On Thursday, Sam Sophea, the owner of Les Manguiers guesthouse where the Frenchwoman stayed, said she had been asked by the police to identify the bicycle and had sent a staff member who had not been “fully sure” that the bike belonged to the guesthouse.

Thierry Dalimier, honorary consul at the Belgian Consulate, said that he too has received no official information or evidence from the local authorities. “I have never received any information from the court and the police,” Mr. Dalimier said.

Questioning of Mr. Van den Bogaert at the Kampot Provincial Court was halted Monday, as there was no translator present for the suspect, said Judge Sokun Vathana, declining to provide further details about the case.

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