Fugitive Soldier Arrested for Murder of Girlfriend

A soldier suspected of murdering his girlfriend and then burning her corpse in a crude cistern outside their house in Phnom Penh on Friday was arrested in Sihanoukville on Monday night while carousing at a restaurant, officials said.

Military police tracked down Song Touch, 48, after neighbors found the charred remains of his girlfriend, Toem Sorphea, 34, in a cistern next to their rented home in Sen Sok district, according to Var Chanthorn, chief of the Preah Sihanouk provincial military police’s security and penal bureau.

“We arrested him at about 8 p.m. last night while he was enjoying a drinking party with some people inside a restaurant in Bei village, Muoy commune,” Mr. Chanthorn said on Tuesday.

“We were able to arrest him after we learned from military police in Phnom Penh that he fled to hide at his relative’s house in Sihanoukville,” he added.

Mr. Chanthorn also said that Mr. Song, a first lieutenant in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ border protection office in Phnom Penh, badly burned his face while attempting to dispose of his girlfriend’s body.

“His whole face was burned because when he burned his wife’s body with gasoline, he carelessly caused flames to injure his face,” he said.

Keo Sophal, a deputy Preah Sihanouk military police commander who led the operation to arrest Mr. Touch on Monday, said the suspect had been taken to the Phnom Penh military police headquarters for questioning.

National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said investigating officers believed that jealousy led to the murder, declining to elaborate.

“The couple argued with each other many times before,” he added.

Khan Daravuth, deputy head of the municipal military police’s investigations and justice department, said Mr. Touch was still being questioned on Tuesday.

“Maybe tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, we will send him to the municipal court to be charged with premeditated murder,” he said.

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