Results of an autopsy conducted by a French team investigating the 2012 murder of a Frenchman and his four children in Kompong Speu province support the team’s initial conclusion of murder, a Cambodian judge said Tuesday.
Judicial officials here have had possession of the 300-page autopsy report into the death of Laurent Vallier, 42, and his children since early July but had been waiting for it to be translated from French to Khmer.
Police initially attempted to paint the case as the murder-suicide of a broke, desperate man. But Laurent Vallier’s family in France suspected foul play and lodged a complaint in the courts there noting that he was embroiled in a dispute with his late Cambodian wife’s relatives over land.
That complaint led to the March 2013 visit of a team of forensic specialists, who ruled out suicide before sending bodily remains and other items found at the crime scene and the family home for testing.
“The autopsy of bones and other items supports that it was a murder, not a suicide,” said Kompong Speu investigating Judge Chhim Ritthy, who added that of 300 pages, only the three-page conclusion of the report had been translated into Khmer.
The bodies of Laurent Vallier and his four children—aged 2 to 9—were found in a submerged car in a pond near the family’s home in Chbar Mon City in January 2012, three months after they had disappeared.
During their two-week investigation, the French team studied the crime scene and spoke to dozens of persons of interest surrounding the case before ruling out suicide.
They discovered previously unstudied traces of blood in a suitcase inside the car, as well as a pair of flip-flops, which Judge Rithy said at the time did not belong to Laurent Vallier and could provide a lead in the case.
However, the French team’s investigation, or at least the three-page conclusion, offered no such hints.
“The DNA from the shoes show that there were many people wearing them,” Judge Ritthy said Tuesday.
Questioned further, the judge said that he could not remember what the rest of the report had found, only that it supports the theory that Laurent Vallier and his children were murdered.
“The report is not really useful,” he said. “We have to wait for the action from the Ministry of Interior.”
Judge Ritthy said he had forwarded the report to Mok Chito, head of the National Police’s central judicial department.
Mr. Chito said that a working group comprising provincial and national police was still working through the case and that the Interior Ministry was awaiting orders from the Kompong Speu Provincial Court on how to proceed.
He confirmed that he had received the translated version of the report but declined to share details.
“[The case] is still in the court’s hands,” Mr Chito said. “If we share the information, it could jeopardize the investigation.”