HRP Official Admits to Murder of CPP Member

A Human Rights Party (HRP) commune councilor on Friday con­fessed to the murder of a CPP member after a fight broke out during an administrative training session for civil servants in Kom­pong Speu province, police and party officials said.

Soth Chanthea, 43, the second deputy commune chief in Oral district’s Trapaing Chor commune, beat Ly Mao, 41, to death on Thurs­day in the district offices.

“The perpetrator confessed that he punched Mr. Mao many times in the face, neck, knee and stomach on the ground during the lunch break after an argument broke out over how to prepare family record documents,” said deputy penal district police chief Buth Buntheoun, adding that the victim later died from his wounds in the referral hospital. “We arrested him and accused him of intentional murder,” he said. “He was an aggressive man.”

Provincial penal police chief Svay Yeoun said Mr. Chanthea had previously served 14 years in prison for murdering his wife in Koh Kong in 1987. “Police are questioning him and will send him to the provincial court [on Friday eve­ning] or [Saturday],” he said.

HRP spokesman Pol Ham sought to distance the party from the incident. “This is not the affairs of the party,” he said. “What we can say is that we are sorry for it.”

“Our condolences go out to the family of the victim, but now it is for the court and police,” Mr. Ham added. “It’s a single criminal act, not an act of the party. We encourage non-violence.” Deputy provincial governor Pen Sambo confirmed the victim was a CPP member.

According to provincial HRP chief Yun Yoeun, the fight broke out in front of the district governor. “During the fighting, more than 30 activists gathered around, but no­body stopped them, not even the Oral district governor [Chem Sa­rim]. They were just watching,” Mr. Yoeun said.

(Additional reporting by Lauren Crothers)

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