The body of Svay Por commune police chief Chan Sophal, who disappeared on a solo mission last month to track down illegal fishermen in the area, was found on Friday by a group of local rice farmers on the edge of the wetlands he was apparently investigating, according to police.
After Chan Sophal vanished on June 21, hundreds of villagers joined police in a search for the police chief, with the Kompong Cham provincial police chief offering a $250 reward to anyone who found his body.
Him Rin, a commune police officer, said Chan Sophal’s decomposed body was found face down on a patch of dry land next to a marsh where illegal fishing is known to be rampant. He said a group of farmers stumbled upon the body while preparing a patch of land for planting rice.
“The farmers spotted his hat and scarf. When they walked about 30 meters further…they found the body on the ground,” he said.
Provincial police have determined that Chan Sophal was murdered.
“We have come to the conclusion that this was a murder,” said Kompong Cham provincial police chief Ben Roth. “He was [struck] in the head with axes multiple times.”
Mr. Roth said that Chan Sophal’s body was only identifiable by the clothes he was wearing, but said that his phone and walkie-talkie were still on his body.
He added that police believe multiple people were involved in the murder, as the wounds suggest that one person was holding Chan Sophal while another attacked him.
“There must be more than one person,” Mr. Roth said. “We are looking into the case to find the criminals to be punished.”
Mr. Roth said that he would give the promised $250 to the family that found the body after Chan Sophal’s funeral.
The former police chief’s body has been sent to his wife as preparations are underway for his funeral on Saturday, according to Mr. Rin, the commune officer.
“A bunch of provincial and district police officers and I will go to attend the funeral,” he said. “At least we can see his body.”