Family Frightened by Unexpected Release of Suspected Murderer

The family of an Interior Ministry police officer murdered early this year in Kompong Cham province filed a complaint with the rights group Adhoc yesterday, claiming the provincial court’s decision to release one of the two suspects incarcerated for the killing jeopardizes their safety.

Yok Rathmany, a 39-year-old captain in the economic crimes police department was shot six times on Jan 5 then dumped on a road in Choeung Prey district’s Soutip commune. When Chhorn Sochea, 29, and Som Poly, 36—the victim’s nephew and brother-in-law, respectively—were arrested nearly two weeks after Rathmany’s body was discovered, they were in possession of jewelry belonging to the victim and, according to penal military police chief Khut Sokha, confessed to his murder.

“[Chhorn Sochea] was released on bail on Dec 9 after the provincial court dropped the murder charges against him and charged him instead with buying and discharging illegal weapons,” said Rathmany’s wife, Pen Srors.

“I am scared the suspect will take revenge on my family now that he is released,” said Ms Srors yesterday.

Ms Srors said she plans to make a formal request to the government’s Anticorruption Unit for an investigation into the court’s decision-making. According to Ms Srors, the court did not even inform her of the suspect’s release, leaving her to hear the news from prison officials.

“The investigating judge decided to acquit the suspect and release him from prison,” said Judge Tith Sothy, director of the provincial court, adding that he was unaware of any more charges being levied against Mr Sochea.

Kea Eav, the victim’s family lawyer, said yesterday that the court had also failed to inform him of its decision to drop the charges against Mr Sochea.

“I don’t understand why the court changed the charge…making it a small case,” said Mr Eav.

Investigating Judge Ngoun Vuthy could not be reached for comment yesterday, and provincial prosecutor Huot Vuthy declined to comment.

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