Five Chinese nationals charged over the murder of a housemate who was found hacked and stabbed to death in their shared apartment in Phnom Penh went on trial on Tuesday at the municipal court.
Chen Huaying, 25, was found dead in her bedroom at the apartment in Borey New Town housing development in Pur Senchey district on November 15.
Police initially identified one of Ms. Chen’s two female roommates as the killer, based on her admission that she stole the two knives used in the murder from the other woman, the group’s designated cook.
It remained unclear on Tuesday when and why all five were charged. However, Presiding Judge Ly Lipmeng named them all as defendants as the trial began.
“The police just assume, and the court, they have their reasons,” Judge Lipmeng said by telephone, declining to elaborate.
The five defendants—Yang Pei Pei, 25, Zeng Wenxuan, 53, Zhao Chunxi, 51, Xu Fuju, 58, and Lou Zaizun, 44—were initially detained for eight nights at the Pur Senchey district police station, but were released due to a lack of evidence, according to the court. At the time, deputy prosecutor Kham Sophary said the investigating judge would continue searching for evidence to link the group to Ms. Chen’s murder.
During the first day of testimony, Judge Lipmeng questioned Ms. Yang about her actions in the hours leading up to the death of Ms. Chen, with whom she shared a bedroom in the multi-level apartment.
“In the morning I went downstairs to have my breakfast in the kitchen and [Ms. Chen] did not come with me,” Ms. Yang said.
At about 6 p.m., when Ms. Yang returned from a nearby market with two other housemates, they were forced to break into the home because Ms. Chen did not answer the door, she said.
“I called out to my friend to open the door for me, but she did not open the door for me. Then we broke the door to get inside,” she said.
She then found Ms. Chen’s body on the floor.
The trial continues on July 1.