Kompong Speu authorities exhumed the body of a Sam Rainsy Party commune official gunned down last weekend and have detained the dead man’s nephew for questioning, officials said Friday
The body of party deputy commune chief Tit Keo Monyroath was exhumed by Interior Ministry officials who plan to conduct ballistics tests on the bullets that killed him Saturday.
Chea Vuth, deputy police chief of Kompong Speu province, said tests on 13 casings found at the scene of the killing indicate they were fired from the victim’s own AK-47 rifle. Bullets will now be removed from the victim’s body and tested to ascertain if they were fired from his own rifle or another weapon, Chea Vuth said.
The slain man’s nephew Him Vuthea, 21, who was with his uncle when the ambush took place, has been detained, he said.
“The victims family does not believe Him Vuthea committed this [crime]. But police suspect the gun might have been fired by him,” Chea Vuth said.
“Police must exhume the body with forensics police…. We do this under orders from the general prosecutor,” he said.
Kompong Speu police Thursday released RCAF soldier Sao Sok, who was detained Tuesday and questioned about the killing.
Sao Sok was released after ballistics tests by the Interior Ministry allegedly proved an AK-47 rifle found at the soldier’s home was not used in the ambush.
Him Vuthea said on Sunday he escaped the ambush by two men with AK-47s after his uncle—who was also carrying a rifle for protection—returned fire when their motorcycle was forced to stop on a quiet stretch of dirt road 1 km from their home.
Hong Lon, the father of Him Vuthea, accused the police on Friday of organizing a frame-up in order to cast blame for the killing on the victim’s relatives.
“I think they want to turn this case into the responsibility of the victim’s family,” said Hong Lon, adding he will seek UN protection as police may try to implicate others in a conspiracy.
Despite UN and human rights groups’ reports on dozens of cases of political killings and violence over the past few years, the Interior Ministry has consistently denied there is any politically motivated crime in Cambodia.
An official from the UN Human Rights Office in Phnom Penh who was present during the exhumation in Kompong Speu said it was too early to comment on the police investigation.
(Additional reporting Kevin Doyle)