Mob Justice Responsible for 2 More Killings

Ros Samnang of Battambang province and an unidentified ethnic Cham man in Pursat province both met the same fate this week: death by mob justice after being suspected of stealing.

Local rights group Adhoc re­corded 23 mob killings last year, some with and some without po­lice present, and warned of an in­creasing trend of villagers taking the law into their own hands.

Ros Samnang, 36, was beaten to death in a rice field early Mon­day morning by villagers who believed he had been stealing chick­ens in Ba­nan district’s Sno­eng commune, dis­trict police chief Buth Sambo said Wednes­day.

Buth Sambo said a dead chicken was found at the scene and alleged that Ros Samnang was a notorious local thief, but added that police had not been able to find evidence sufficient to arrest him recently.

“He was in prison twice, but he still stole,” Buth Sambo said.

“We continue to educate people that we have laws and courts …. We are investigating who is behind [the killing].”

But Adhoc investigator Chan Soveth said that police lack the means to stop mob justice or the will to investigate cases, adding that the trend has increased since 1999.

“If authorities work according to the law appropriately, mob killings can be reduced,” Chan Soveth said.

“If not, people will feel relaxed about it. It is becoming a custom now. People just kill suspects in anarchic ways.”

In Pursat’s Krakor district on Sun­day night, villagers chased a group of more than four suspected buffalo thieves into the forest, kill­ing one of them, police said.

Members of a local civilian security unit carrying sticks were among the group chasing the suspected thieves, district police chief Bin Vanna said Wednesday, adding that although the killers should be prosecuted, the whole village has thumbprinted a statement supporting the killing.

“Villagers thumbprinted to support the act. It is a village of red thumb­­prints,” he said.


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