Friends of Canadian journalist Dave Walker, who went missing under mysterious circumstances in February and was found dead in Siem Reap province last week, expressed anger Wednesday at the Cambodian police’s apparent unwillingness to investigate the 58-year-old’s death.
Two-and-a-half months after the journalist vanished after going for a walk, two boys stumbled upon his body in a forested area near Angkor Thom on May 1.
But since then, police have showed little interest in pursuing obvious lines of inquiry, Terry Corman, a lifelong friend of the deceased, said by email.
“We—David’s many friends across the globe—are all concerned about what has transpired over these past eleven weeks,” he said, adding that the police’s assumption his friend had walked 13 km to Angkor Thom made no sense as he had problems walking due to painful knees.
He also questioned the “seemingly repetitious reluctance of the authorities to follow-up upon evidence available: interviews with David’s associates, forensic analysis of his cellphone, laptop” and other items left behind in his guesthouse.
When the body was found, although it was badly decomposed, police quickly announced that Dave Walker had died of a heart attack. Police reiterated their conclusion on Sunday when a team of international forensics experts left to analyze autopsy and DNA tests.
Peter Vronsky, a history professor at Toronto’s Ryerson University and a longtime friend, also expressed frustration about the fact that police said Dave Walker died of a heart attack before any autopsy was carried out.
“Unless the Canadian government pushes Cambodia, there indeed may never be an investigation,” he said.
Saro Khatchadourian, foreign affairs and consular press secretary for Canada’s Office of the Minister of State, said Canadian authorities were still collecting evidence in the case.
“Consular officials are providing assistance to the family during this difficult time and are in contact with local authorities to gather more information [but] due to privacy concerns, we cannot provide more information.”
Siem Reap City police chief Tith Narong said he was aware of the concerns of friends and family.
“We know what the friends and family of the victim are saying and of course they will say these things, but we don’t care about their comments. But we have not closed the case and are still investigating and waiting for forensics results.”
Provincial police chief Sort Nady said police had liaised with Apsara Authority but had discovered no clues as to how the journalist entered the park.
“We are still concluding that the victim died of a heart attack because the there is not enough fresh air in that forest and it is easy for people to fall unconscious,” he said.