DNA Evidence Inconclusive in Kampot Murder

An investigation by French police into the murder of a 25-year-old French tourist in Kampot province in February has failed to produce any DNA evidence that could identify her killer, an Interior Ministry official said Tuesday.

Lieutenant General Mok Chito, who heads the National Judicial Police department, said that he had received the DNA report from French Embassy officials two weeks ago but that it was inconclusive.

Ophelie Begnis’ naked corpse was found floating near a riverbank in Kampot City on February 10 with wounds to her arms and head. She was last seen leaving her guesthouse on a bicycle the day before her body was discovered.

In March, a team of French police, including forensic scientists, visited Kampot province to investigate the case and gather DNA samples following a complaint filed by the family of Ophelie Begnis to the French government.

So far, local police have only named one suspect, 40-year-old Belgian national Olivier van den Bogaert. Mr. van den Bogaert was arrested in April and charged with the murder after he was allegedly seen by witnesses dumping the bicycle at a durian plantation a few kilometers away from where the body was found.

“There was no DNA that matched the suspects’,” Lt. Gen. Chito said. “[The DNA evidence] might have disappeared with the water.”

He added that the DNA report was flawed and unclear, and was therefore “not usable.”

“Right now, the DNA isn’t the important thing. The important things are the evidence and the witnesses,” he said, declining to comment further.

Mr. van den Bogaert’s lawyer, Khun Sophal, said he had not received the DNA report, and was still working on getting bail for his client, who is currently being detained at the Kampot provincial prison.

Investigating Judge Hong Sokun Vathana confirmed that the court had received the DNA report and had sent it to be translated.

“But I haven’t seen the Khmer version yet,” Judge Sokun Vathana said, adding that he was still questioning the witnesses.

Nicolas Baudouin, first secretary at the French Embassy, declined to comment on the case.

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