The hunt for the killers of a farmer whose body was found in a canal in Kompong Thom province more than two years ago ended this week with the arrest and prosecution of four suspects, officials said on Wednesday.
Villagers found the bruised and bloated body of Men Samnang, 38, floating face down in the canal in Baray district’s Krava commune on September 16, 2013, three days after he was last seen at his home, according to Chea Poeun, chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau.
Police were initially unable to identify any suspects but began investigating the case with renewed vigor late last year when a neighbor of Men Samnang provided district police with new information, Mr. Poeun said.
The neighbor said that before his death, Men Samnang warned villagers that a gang of men—Keng Len, 38; Ieng Oeung, 28; Soeung Vy, 32; and Lok Thet, 36—were stealing cattle in the area, he said.
In retaliation, the men attempted to kill Men Samnang on September 13, the bureau chief said, citing the neighbor’s account.
“He told police that before he went missing, the victim told him that the suspects attempted to kill him but did not succeed. The witness said the victim told him that the suspects tried to use a rope to hang him while he was fishing in a pond,” he said, noting that both Mr. Len and Mr. Vy had spent time in prison for stealing cattle.
Mr. Poeun said the neighbor did not come to police sooner because he feared for his own safety.
“He thought he might be killed like Mr. Men Samang,” he said, explaining that the neighbor contacted authorities after the suspects had left the commune.
“After a long investigation, on Wednesday we arrested the four guys in different places in the district,” Mr. Phoeun said. All four denied involvement in the murder, he added.
Khorn Sokol, director of the Kompong Thom Provincial Court, said the men were charged and jailed on Wednesday.
“I charged them with premeditated murder and also decided to send them to provincial prison,” he said.