Men Murder Suspected Sorcerer Based on Mystic’s Description

Three men who believe that two of their relatives were killed by black magic will be sent to Kompong Chhnang Provincial Court Friday for murdering a man they believed was responsible for the deaths and who was identified to them by a fortune-teller, police said Thursday.

Police found the body of Mers Than, 49, near a river in Toek Phos district on Wednesday, with his hands bound and his head nearly severed, according to deputy district police chief Liv Bunsong.

Later Wednesday, Mr. Bunsong said, police arrested three men—two brothers Khoem Sokhim, 22, and Khoem Sokha, 21, and Duong Chetra, 18—who told investigators that they murdered Mers Than because he had used black magic to kill two of their relatives.

“The suspects used sticks to beat the victim, then tied him up and used an ax to attack his neck until his head was almost cut off,” Mr. Bunsong said, recounting the suspects’ confession. “We found a stick and an ax at the scene.”

The deputy police chief said the brothers visited a clairvoyant about a month ago in an attempt to find out what had caused the illness and deaths of their father-in-law and sister-in-law roughly two years earlier.

“The fortune-teller told them that there was someone who lived near them who had used black magic” on their in-laws, he said, adding that while the mystic did not give the brothers a name, he provided a physical description of the alleged sorcerer.

After a few weeks, the brothers settled on Mers Than as their target and enlisted the help of Mr. Chetra, a fellow resident of Kbal Toek commune’s Morng village, to seek revenge, Mr. Bunsong said.

“At 3 p.m. [Tuesday], they persuaded the victim to go and drink together in a wooden hut in the rice field,” he said. After drinking some rice wine, he added, “the suspects asked the victim: ‘Do you know how to cast spells like a sorcerer?’”

Mers Than said no, but was murdered nevertheless, Mr. Bunsong said.

Provincial deputy police chief Pol Vuthy said the suspects were being held at the provincial police station and would be sent to court Friday.

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