Military Police Officer, Wife to Appear in Court Over Murder of Journalist

A military police captain and his wife are scheduled to appear in Ratanakkiri Provincial Court on Saturday over their alleged role in the murder of journalist Hang Serei Odom, police said.

Deputy provincial police chief Phen Dina said that there was enough evidence to send the couple, An Bunheng and his wife, Sim Vy, to the court on charges of pre-meditated murder.

“It doesn’t matter whether or not the arrested couple confesses to the crime, police have collected sufficient evidence, which is why they are still under detention before we will send them to the court,” Mr. Dina said Friday.

At least four other suspects, including a Veun Sai district military police commander, were also questioned in connection with the brutal murder, but have been released.

Ratanakkiri Provincial Police Chief Ray Rai said at least three people were likely involved in the killing, but he declined to provide details.

Hang Serei Odom, 42, was found hacked to death in the trunk of his car on Tuesday after he went missing on Sunday. A journalist for the little-known Virakchun Khmer Daily newspaper, he had reported on illegal loggings, timber smuggling and deforestation in the northeastern province.

While the swift arrests are welcome, authorities must continue the search for accomplices in the murder, said Pen Bonnar, Ratanakkiri provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc.

“The arrests, in fact, proves that there is judicial progress in Cambodia where police worked together with investigators from the interior ministry to discover the suspected murderers fast,” Mr. Bonnar said.

“At the same time, we urge the authorities to deepen and widen the investigation to bring the accomplices to stand trial….because we don’t believe that such a brutally planned murder was committed by only two people.”

Im Chanthy, the wife of the slain journalist, welcomed the arrests.

“I want the judicial system to punish them without pardon,” said Ms. Chanthy, who is seven months pregnant.

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