The cousin of a young man charged with murdering a Defense Ministry official late last month was found with his throat slit three times Wednesday morning in a Phnom Penh apartment in what officials are calling a suicide.
Keo Vuthy’s father, however, has filed a complaint calling for further investigation, saying his son likely fell prey to a revenge attack after giving police the whereabouts of his cousin, who was promptly arrested.
Keo Vuthy, 23, had been living in a Pur Senchey district apartment with his cousin Mey Kimheng, 21, who is the lone suspect in the murder of Ly Davy, 37, a major at the Defense Ministry, who was stabbed to death in broad daylight outside a Phnom Penh market on June 21.
When police appeared at the cousins’ shared apartment in Kakab commune two days later, Keo Vuthy told them that Mr. Kimheng was inside, according to Keo Vuthy’s father, Ke Sothea, 51.
“Police asked my son while they were looking for him, and then he told them that [Mr. Kimheng] was living there and staying upstairs,” he said. “Then police arrested him.”
Mr. Kimheng has since been charged with premeditated murder and placed in provisional detention.
On Wednesday, Mr. Kimheng’s father, Mey Sarith, 45, found his nephew’s body at about 11:30 a.m., approximately half an hour after he was believed to have died, commune police chief San Pet said on Thursday. Mr. Sarith reported the death to commune police about 30 minutes later, after calling Keo Vuthy’s mother, he said.
“After we questioned his uncle on Thursday, we had no suspicion that he had killed him,” he said, declining to provide Mr. Sarith’s alibi. He said police concluded that Keo Vuthy had committed suicide, though he did not know why the young man might have taken his own life.
Norng Sovannaroth, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s doctor, said an inspection of Keo Vuthy’s body on Wednesday afternoon confirmed he had taken his own life.
“It was a suicide because I looked at the blood and it was only spread across one place, and on his body there were no signs of a struggle,” he said. “For example, if his uncle had cut his throat then he would have fought back and the room would have looked bad.”
A photograph of the scene shows splatters of blood across the bedroom walls and the right side of Keo Vuthy’s body drenched in blood. His legs and feet are also covered in blood.
Mr. Sothea, Keo Vuthy’s father, insisted on Thursday that police had it wrong. He said his son had plans to study IT in China and had no reason to take his own life, pointing to Mr. Sarith as a possible culprit.
“I think he was unhappy with my son and wanted revenge against him,” he said, adding that Mr. Sarith had threatened to kick Keo Vuthy out of the apartment after his son’s arrest.
Mr. Sothea said he filed an official request with police on Thursday morning to continue investigating Keo Vuthy’s death.
While Mr. Pet said police would respect Mr. Sothea’s request, he said he doubted their conclusion would change.
Mr. Sarith was not at the house when a reporter visited on Thursday, and relatives declined to provide his contact information.