Body of Murdered Frenchwoman Is Examined

Officials from the Interior Ministry and the French Embassy on Tuesday visited Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital to examine the body of a 25-year-old French woman found murdered in Kampot City on Sunday. 

Ophelie Begnis was staying at Les Manguiers guesthouse in Kampot province’s Toek Chhou district and was last seen leaving the grounds on a bicycle on Saturday afternoon. Her body was discovered the next day naked and washed up on a riverbank in Kampot City’s Andoung Khmer commune with lacerations to her head and arms. The body was sent to Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital the following day.

“This morning, the police from the Interior Ministry and the French Embassy came to the morgue to examine the body,” said Heng Sean, head of Calmette’s morgue. “I don’t know the result of the examination.”

Ing Sophal, deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s autopsy police bureau, confirmed the visit but declined to comment, while a French Embassy representative said only that an investigation was ongoing.

In Chiva, Kampot deputy provincial police chief, said police had no suspects and still had not determined the scene of the crime.

The French Embassy also issued a statement on Tuesday reprimanding some local media outlets for publishing photographs of the victim.

“The French Embassy once again regrets that Cambodian newspapers and websites have decided to publish photos which constitute an infringement of the respect for privacy and human dignity and are contrary to the basic rules of press ethics,” the statement said.

“It reiterates its call to stop this type of publication which are shocking for the families of victims and contrary to quality journalism,” the statement continued.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies, said that some local newspapers tend to “sacrifice” professional practices in order to attract readers.

“If journalists do not regulate themselves [with ethical standards], government officials will try to regulate us,” Mr. Chhean Nariddh said. “We know what stories not to publish out of respect and privacy of the victim and we know what photos we should not print.”

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