MoI Declares Drug Suspect’s Death a Suicide

The Interior Ministry officially de­clared August 24 that the death of Oum Chhay, an adviser to National As­sem­bly and CPP Honorary Pres­i­dent Heng Samrin who was arrested for suspected involvement in an il­licit drug laboratory, was the result of suicide.

Mok Chito, Penal Department di­rector for the Interior Ministry, said during a August 24 news conference that officials had determined that Oum Chhay, 50, died on the morning of August 22 from an injury to the back of his head sustained after jumping from the second story of the Anti-Drug Department building.

“In one blink of an eye [Oum Chhay] jumped down and died immediately,” he said, adding that Oum Chhay’s body turned during the 5.2 meter fall from the sitting room of Anti-Drug Department Di­rector Moek Dara’s office, causing him to land on the back of his head.

Oum Chhay, owner of Chhay Chhay Investment, Ltd, was arrested Aug 15 for allegedly aiding the trans­portation of four tons of chemicals to a drug lab in Kompong Speu pro­vince that was raided by police in April.

Mok Chito said no disciplinary act­ion would be taken at this time against the three officers who were guarding Oum Chhay when he died.

Rights groups have expressed doubts over the cause of Oum Chhay’s death, saying that they were prevented from entering the area where he died.

Mok Chito said that rights workers and reporters were kept out of the area so as not to disrupt the in­ves­tigation.

The Interior Ministry said following Oum Chhay’s apparent suicide that he had twice attempted and fail­ed to commit suicide—once by running head first into a wall and once by electrocution.

Kek Galabru, president of local rights group Licadho, said August 24 said even if Oum Chhay did kill himself, the fact that he was already considered a suicide risk should have made the Interior Ministry more cautious while detaining him.

Heng Samrin and Moek Dara could not be reached for comment August 24.

(Additional reporting by James Welsh)


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