A Chinese man supervising road repairs for the Shanghai Construction Group in Kratie province was murdered on Friday night, local police said Sunday, adding that they were focusing their search for the killer on a recently fired employee of the company.
The body of He Pei Gang, 55, was found by employees of the company just after 9 p.m. on Friday lying next to a generator with two deep wounds to the head, Sambor district deputy police chief Chhin Sambo said Sunday.
The Chinese company was working on repairs to National Road 7, Mr. Sambo said, and He Pei Gang routinely went to turn off the firm’s generator between 8:30 and 9 every night.
“Based on our investigation, at about 8:30 p.m., the Chinese man came to turn off the generator and an unknown suspect killed him,” he said. “The victim was struck two times on the forehead and he fell and died immediately.”
Mr. Sambo said police did not find a murder weapon at the scene.
Chan Sophalla, acting chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau, said the victim had fired a number of workers for stealing gasoline and diesel from the company and that his killer was likely one of them.
“We suspect that the murder could have been revenge because, based on our investigation, he had fired some workers who were stealing gas,” he said.
Mr. Sophalla said police had questioned and released eight current employees of the firm and were focusing their attention on a man who was fired for stealing oil on Friday, the day of the supervisor’s death.
“The company suspects him, and now we are searching for him so we can question him, but he is still at large,” he said.
Lu Peng Hao, a translator for Shanghai Construction, confirmed that the suspect was fired Friday.
“On January 2, in the morning, the supervisor fired one worker because he had stolen gasoline from the company, but we don’t know where he has gone,” he said. “We suspect this worker did it and police are still searching for him.”
Mr. Peng Hao said the supervisor’s body was being held at Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital and that authorities were waiting for his family to decide whether to have the corpse buried in Cambodia or sent back to China.
The death of He Pei Gang comes just four months after a Chinese supervisor was murdered at a Pheapimex Group plantation in Pursat province. Police investigating that case said the most likely suspect was one of the company’s gasoline-truck drivers.