Kompong Cham Provincial Court yesterday charged a 50-year-old man with murder after he allegedly hacked his uncle to death with a sword before beating his sister to death with a stick, according to police and a court official.
Son Chhoy, who claimed he had been possessed by a ghost at the time of the killings, was arrested Tuesday at his home in Tbong Khmum district’s Rokap Pram commune for the killing of his uncle, Por Norng, 78, and his sister, Son Y, 58, district deputy police chief Long Sarin said.
Mr Chhoy held no apparent grudge against his two family members and appeared to be suffering from a mental illness, Mr Sarin said.
“This is not a revenge case. He just had a short-term mental illness,” he said. “We have sent him to court to prosecute him by law.”
On Tuesday, Mr Chhoy had complained that he was feeling ill and his family gathered to help him by holding a ceremony involving blessed water, Mr Sarin said.
But during the ceremony Mr Chhoy picked up a traditional sword, danced around the house and declared he was a god, Mr Sarin said.
He then allegedly struck his uncle on the neck twice, killing him instantly, and fled the scene, the chief said. He later returned and allegedly beat his sister to death.
Mr Chhoy later told police that he did not remember what happened during the incident because he had been possessed by a ghost, a belief echoed by villagers who witnessed the slayings, Mr Sarin said.
Neang Sovath, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said that in some areas of Cambodia a belief in the supernatural often masks the existence of mental illness. “The poorly educated people still believe too much in superstition,” he said.
Phan Sopheak, the Kompong Cham deputy prosecutor, said the man was charged with murder and is being held in pretrial detention at the provincial prison.