Three men were charged on Wednesday over the brutal murder of a 5-year-old boy in Battambang province on Monday, although only one of the suspects has confessed to carrying out the crime.
Provincial court spokesman Toch Sopheakdey said the three friends—Heng Hin, 18; Thai Bong, 19; and Met Poch, 27—were all charged with murder with aggravated circumstances and placed in provisional detention at the provincial prison.
Mr. Poch had been asked to babysit the boy while his father traveled to Battambang City, and he in turn invited the other two to drink at the family’s house in Samlot district on Sunday night.
Mr. Sopheakdey refused to explain why Mr. Bong and Mr. Poch were charged and jailed, given that Mr. Hin had admitted to murdering the boy in a rage when the child would not stop crying.
“About that, we can’t say, because it is an investigative procedure,” he said.
Keo Mos, the chief of Kompong Lpov commune, where the crime occurred, said initial police reports stating that the boy was killed due to blood loss when his neck was cut open with a saw were not accurate.
He said the boy died when his neck was “twisted” by Mr. Hin. “He twisted the boy’s neck when he was sleeping under the mosquito net and then he dragged him outside and started hacking him in the head repeatedly with a handsaw.”
Mr. Mos speculated that the crime was motivated by a dispute between Mr. Hin and the boy’s father, Choy Kha, 34, who had employed Mr. Hin and Mr. Poch to take care of his farm.
Mr. Kha, he added, has been missing since shortly after the murder, while his wife, Ong Orn, 41, is currently in prison on drug-trafficking charges.
“His father showed up at the house [after the murder], and he cried and then he told people that he was going to the place that makes coffins to order a coffin for his son,” he said. “He disappeared after that.”
Mr. Sopheakdey, the court spokesman, said the other two detained suspects could have the charges against them dropped before the case makes it to trial.
“If we find out that they are not perpetrators and not guilty, we will drop the charges,” he said.