kev odam village, Kompong Speu province – The bound and bloated body of what appeared to be a white male was found by villagers early Monday along a rural stretch of Route 4 in Kompong Speu.
Provincial police said Monday they had no suspects or leads in the murder, and have not identified the victim.
An inspection of the body, clad only in underwear, revealed that the man had suffered blows to the head and the leg from a heavy, blunt instrument, police said. The man’s mouth was covered by several layers of tape, his wrists were handcuffed and tied with a belt in front of the man, and his ankles were bound with wire. He was partially wrapped in a blue tarpaulin.
Senior provincial police officials at the scene—about 30 km southwest of Phnom Penh—said they would notify embassies in the capital today of the killing. “At the first conclusion, the body is not a Khmer citizen,” Kompong Speu Police Chief Nob Oeun said. “The body looks very much like a European or Westerner.”
About 100 Cambodian villagers and police gathered at the scene for several hours Monday, waiting for police to produce a release form to Red Cross workers to remove the body.
Just before dark, the Red Cross workers took the body to Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh, where they said it will be kept in a morgue until it is identified. An American Red Cross official said authorities did not want to remove the body because it was believed to be that of a foreigner.
Kompong Speu town, the provincial capital just to the south, does not have a morgue, he said.
Police refused to speculate on the motive for the killing, but said they believe the man was killed about two days before in Phnom Penh and dumped Sunday night.
Chea Vuth, Kompong Speu deputy police chief in charge of crime, said he believed the large size of the middle-aged man prevented the assailants from getting rid of the body until days later.
Villagers reported that at about 7:50 pm Sunday, a white Toyota Camry with two men inside pulled up to the spot where the body was found, 200 meters south on Route 4 from Kev Odam village, Samraong Tong district. The car paused for a few minutes, then turned around toward Phnom Penh, police said, citing eyewitness reports.
Villagers who found the corpse Monday morning informed police, who then reported it to NGO workers in the area. There are no suspects and no leads as of yet, police said. Police will determine whether any registered nationals have been missing, they said.
One security consultant said it will be difficult to determine whether the killing is an isolated incident or points to a trend until more is known.
“He could have been a tourist involved in drugs or something illegal…but it’s very hard to comment unless we know the full details,” said Mark Bowman, a Western security consultant with five years of experience in Cambodia.
However, Cambodians fear killing foreigners because of the publicity and scrutiny it brings, Bowman said. “The Cambodians have the attitude where they try to avoid killing foreigners because it brings the heat on them,” Bowman said. “One death in this country of a foreigner makes headlines around the world.”