A farmer in Kampot province was charged with premeditated murder on Sunday for setting fire to his one-month-old granddaughter on Saturday morning in a murder-suicide attempt that resulted in her death, officials said on Sunday.
Sun Sorn, 54, bought three liters of gasoline and a lighter in preparation for the crime and locked himself and his granddaughter in an upstairs bedroom at about 7 a.m., according to Sokhun Chath, chief of police in Kompong Trach district’s Damnak Kantuot Khang Choeung commune.
Holding the infant in his arms, he sparked a flame and lit the child on fire, Mr. Chath said.
“He was angry with his daughter for having a baby without a husband,” he said, adding that the child’s mother, Sok Mul, 23, was downstairs when the incident occurred.
Having heard her daughter’s cries, Ms. Mul ran upstairs, only to find smoke billowing from the closed door, he said. She immediately alerted commune police, who arrived at about 8:15 a.m.
“We knew that the baby was already dead, so we changed our strategy for the safety of police,” he said, adding that Mr. Sorn was still alert.
“He was resisting. He threw stones and other materials at police,” Mr. Chath said, adding that the standoff lasted for three hours. “We threw three to four smoke grenades into the house, and then we broke into the house through a wall.”
According to a police report, Mr. Sorn admitted to plans of killing his granddaughter, but he also planned to die in the act.
Koung Sam, chief of Phnom Domrei village, where the family lived, said Mr. Sorn had a history of unusual behavior.
“A few months ago, he ran to my house saying that people were chasing him and trying to hack him, but there was nobody,” he said, speculating that he was suffering from the repercussions of trauma from serving as a Khmer Rouge soldier.
Mr. Sorn was charged with premeditated murder on Sunday and was detained in the provincial prison, according to deputy provincial prosecutor Khan Sophal.
The crime is punishable by life imprisonment.