Court Summons In-Laws of Dead Frenchman for Questioning

The Kompong Speu Provincial Court will question five people, including three relatives of Laurent Vallier, a Frenchman who was discovered dead at the bottom of a pond in his car along with the remains of his four children almost a year ago, court officials said on Friday.

Provincial investigating Judge Chhim Ritthy said that Tith Chhuon, Laurent Vallier’s father-in-law, Sar Savy, his mother-in-law, and Srey On, his sister-in-law, would be summoned on January 24 about the case. Judge Ritthy said officials at the court were looking into the possibility that Laurent Vallier and his family were murdered.

Initial investigations carried out by police said that Laurent Vallier had killed himself and his children by driving into the pond.

Laurent Vallier’s relatives were also questioned once in August, Judge Ritthy confirmed yesterday.

“This second bout of questioning will take place on January 24 because we believe the relatives of Mr. Vallier’s wife wanted his land,” Judge Ritthy said. He explained that the court wanted to know how Laurent Vallier’s in-laws had come to acquire nine titles from authorities in Prey Veng province’s Kompong Trabek district for land that used to belong to the Frenchman.

The court will also question a village chief and a commune chief in Kompong Trabek district to find out when the land titles were handed out, Judge Ritthy said, without elaborating.

Laurent Vallier’s in-laws could not be reached on Friday despite several attempts.

After the bodies of Laurent Vallier and his children were removed from a four-wheel drive car at the Frenchman’s home in Rakar Thom commune on January 14, 2012, the French authorities announced they were collaborating with Cambodian police in the case.

Friends of Laurent Vallier have said that he would never have harmed his children and that shortly before he went missing in September 2011 he had tried to sell one of his nearby properties.

To make the sale, Laurent Vallier had approached Bin Kimheng, the father of a young Cambodian woman to whom he was briefly engaged in 2010. The mother of his children died in 2009 while giving birth to his fourth child and, according to his close friends, Laurent Vallier had a rocky relationship with his in-laws.

Dominque Mas, first councilor at the French Embassy said that the investigation into the death of Laurent Vallier and his four children was ongoing in both Cambodia and France.

“We are undergoing normal judicial procedure and the judge will hear what he wants and that should not signify that those brought in for questioning are automatically guilty,” Mr. Mas said, referring questions on the case to Judge Ritthy.

“I confirm that a judicial investigation has also been opened in France and that the French judge and the Cambodian judge are cooperating in order to exchange information and carry out the respective investigations,” Mr. Mas added.

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