Chief Monk’s Brother-in-Law on the Run After Murder

Preah Vihear military police are seeking to arrest the brother-in-law of a chief monk charged with murder in Chheb district, saying new information suggests the brother-in-law was closely involved in the crime.

Provincial military police arrested the monk, Moul Sokny, 31, on the grounds of the Khemara Seima pagoda in Kompong Sralao II commune on Sunday after discovering the body of Mith Touch, 64, buried behind his home.

Mr. Sokny, who has been defrocked and who confessed to murdering Mith Touch over a land dispute, was charged with premeditated murder on Tuesday and placed in provisional detention at the provincial prison.

Deputy provincial military police commander Chu Bunsong, who is leading the investigation, said on Wednesday that Mr. Sokny claimed he called his brother-in-law Sy Sin, 26, after the murder to help bury the body.

But based on interviews carried out with villagers Thursday, Mr. Bunsong said he now suspects that Mr. Sin was more closely involved in the murder.

“Following our investigation, it shows that he [Mr. Sin] is the person who carried the victim to the pagoda” by giving her a ride on his motorbike, Mr. Bunsong said Thursday.

“We are looking to arrest him and have notified neighboring provinces because villagers also said he fled with his family three days after the murder.”

According to Mr. Sokny’s confession to police, the murder took place on December 9 after he asked Mith Touch to visit his house and confronted her about allegations she was spreading against him in the commune.

Mith Touch was telling villagers that Mr. Sokny had duped her out of a $2,000 plot of land, which he then transferred to Mr. Sin, who pawned off the land title to raise funds for his battery-charging business.

Seng Sophea, 40, who lives near the pagoda and frequents it, said Thursday that Mr. Sokny had a stake in the battery-charging business, too.

“He was not a good monk because he had a battery-charging business with his brother-in-law,” Ms. Sophea said.

Chao Sath Yoth, acting chief monk of Khemara Seima pagoda, said Mr. Sokny’s actions were a clear violation of the Buddhist doctrine, which prohibits monks from profiting from a business.

“A monk cannot have a business to make profit,” he said. “It is a big mistake. His activities were bad and will affect monks around the country.”

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