Court Charges 4 Brothers Over Beheading of Traditional Healer

The Kompong Speu Provincial Court has charged four brothers over the murder of a traditional healer who was beheaded earlier this month, despite the only inculpatory evidence being two bloody T-shirts found near the scene of the crime, police said Monday.

The headless and battered body of Pak Sophea, 53, was discovered on July 11 in Thpong district near three bloody wooden clubs. The two T-shirts were found several days later, about 30 meters away.

Police questioned more than 10 people over the killing and eventually arrested the four brothers over the past two weeks, said Sam Sak, chief of the provincial police’s serious crime bureau.

Mr. Sak said two of the brothers admitted to owning the T-shirts.

“Two of them acknowledged the T-shirts belonged to them, but claimed they did not know why their T-shirts were found at the scene,” he said. “All of them said they knew nothing about the crime.”

Mr. Sak said police had no additional proof that the brothers murdered Pak Sophea.

“We don’t have evidence except the T-shirts,” he said.

Nonetheless, Mr. Sak said, the men were charged with murder at the Kompong Speu Provincial Court last week and sent to prison to await trial. He said the pair was charged by Investigating Judge Phuong Putheara, but could not recall exactly when.

Contacted Monday, Judge Putheara declined to comment.

Deputy district police chief Chea Sun identified the brothers as Phat Ratana, Phat Ratanak, Phat Ratha and Phat Phearon. He said investigators suspected that the brothers, who are all adults, killed Pak Sophea because they believed he was a sorcerer.

“A week before the murder, they blamed the victim for their father’s death,” he said.

Mr. Sun said a fifth man was likely also involved, but refused to provide more details about his identity.

“We already recommended that the court issue a warrant to arrest one more guy,” he said.

“He also accused the victim of using black magic that caused his relative’s death. He is on the run now.”

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