Embassy Seeks Answers in Mysterious Death of Canadian National

The Canadian Embassy is seeking more details from police in Preah Sihanouk Province about the death last week of a Canadian man amid widely divergent reports that he was either the victim of violent crime or a road accident.

Canadian Charge d’Affairs Eve­lyne Coulombe said a team from the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh is communicating with police to clarify what caused Jiri Zivny’s severe head injury that ultimately lead to his death on Thursday in a Phnom Penh hospital.

“They are following up with the local authorities responsible for investigating his death,” Coulombe said Monday by telephone. “They are aware the circumstances are not very clear for this case,” she added.

Police maintain the 43-year-old died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash while the Can­adian organization which brought Zivny on a short-term visit to Cambodia, said robbers attacked him and left him for dead near an ATM.

Provincial Governor Sboang Sarath said the erroneous news reports about the attack on the Canadian have damaged the reputation of the seaside resort and he would like to see the information corrected.

“I want the [Canadian news] Web sites to review the case and correct it,” he said Sunday.

Provincial police also gave contact details on Monday for the young Cambodian men who were allegedly involved in the accident with the Canadian.

Teing Ngeoun, 24, said he was a passenger on the motorcycle that collided with Zivny, and which was driven by his friend, Heang Lyna, who was also left unconscious in the crash.

Chan Lim, the mother of Heang Lyna, said by telephone that her 21-year-old son is recuperating at her home in Phnom Penh, but added the crash left him unable to speak.

However, a Canadian travel companion of Zivny, who requested anonymity, said he last saw Zivny at a discotheque in the tourist town on the night of Jan 9. Zivny was with a Cambodian woman and the pair continued on to another club, said his friend who said that the next time he saw Zivny was at 7am at a medical clinic with his head battered and clad only in his underwear.

“It’s a mystery to me too…. We’re quite skeptical,” he said.

Police maintained last week that Zivny’s lack of clothing could be explained by him having been at the beach, though the incident happened in the early hours of the morning.

Bank statements from Zivny’s account also show that he had two consecutive withdrawals of $250 from an ATM in Preah Sihanouk on the night of the incident, the friend and the Canadian organization, International Humanitarian Hope Society, said, which has led them to conclude that Zivny was robbed.

They also noted that Zivny’s body had no scratches or cuts indicating he was in a crash.

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