The Kompong Cham provincial court on Sunday charged a 47-year-old man with murder over accusations he clubbed an 18-year-old monk to death in Choeung Prey district on Saturday, officials said.
Deputy provincial prosecutor Plang Sophal said that he charged Nhoek Vanna with murder for allegedly killing monk Chhoeut Rachhan at the Kok Pongro pagoda in Sramor commune.
“I already charged him with murder today,” he said. “I sent the case to an investigating judge.”
Mr. Sophal added that claims from locals that the suspect is mentally disabled would have to be verified by a doctor, who could be asked to do an examination by the investigating judge.
“You or me cannot say the suspect is crazy or not because there are no documents to confirm this,” he said. “Only a doctor can say if someone is crazy or not.”
Tom Channa, chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau, said relatives of Mr. Vanna told him he was sent to the pagoda a few weeks ago to have “black magic” removed from his head.
“He talks like a crazy man,” Mr. Channa said of interrogating Mr. Vanna. “I could understand only one phrase from him: ‘I don’t know.’”
Mr. Channa said the suspect allegedly attacked Chhoeut Rachhan on Saturday morning as the monk was walking toward a prayer hall at the pagoda.
“While the monk was walking, the suspect attacked him from behind using a club to hit him on the head,” he said, adding that monks and villagers surrounded Mr. Vanna until police arrived to arrest him.
“The monk died at the scene because he got badly injured on his head,” Mr. Channa said.
Thou Langdy, deputy chief of the provincial police’s serious crimes bureau, said that he tried to relay information regarding Mr. Vanna’s mental state to the court.
“The court said we can’t say he is [mentally disabled] because there is no legal documents,” Mr. Langdy said.