Mother Tells of Murdered Woman’s Oppressive Marriage

Before she was brutally murdered in February, Va Dary felt like a prisoner in her own home —a two-story gated residence given to her by the two-star military general charged on Sunday with killing her and their 6-year-old daughter, her mother said Monday.

Interpol police arrested Kim Marintha, a Royal Cambodian Armed Forces major general and wealthy businessman, on Saturday in Thailand. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged Maj. Gen. Marintha with two counts of premeditated murder on Sunday.

Va Dary, 30, and her husband Major General Kim Marintha pose for a photograph with their daughter Kim Thavichada at the wedding of her older brother in Kompong Cham province in 2009. (Courtesy of Mey Lyly)
Va Dary, 30, and her husband Major General Kim Marintha pose for a photograph with their daughter Kim Thavichada at the wedding of her older brother in Kompong Cham province in 2009. (Courtesy of Mey Lyly)

Mey Lyly, Va Dary’s mother, said Monday that she didn’t approve of her daughter’s relationship with Maj. Gen. Marintha, who married her daughter but never had an official wedding ceremony, but eventually relented.

“I knew that he had many girlfriends,” said Ms. Lyly, 50, sitting in the Tuol Kok district home given to her daughter years ago. “But she fell in love, and I wanted her to be happy.”

What started out as a loving relationship soon turned bitter as Va Dary became another plaything of her controlling and jealous husband, Ms. Lyly said.

“There was no more warmth in the relationship,” she said. “He came by here maybe once or twice a week.”

But while he was rarely around, Maj. Gen. Marintha monitored Va Dary’s movements closely.

“He would call me when she left the home and ask where she was going,” Ms. Lyly said. “I don’t know how he knew when she was leaving.”

Ms. Lyly said that her daughter met Maj. Gen. Marintha in 2006 and they soon started dating. He gave her a job at GST, the bus company he owns.

In 2007, Maj. Gen. Marintha moved Va Dary and five family members from a small rental home in Phnom Penh to the spacious home where Ms. Lyly and two daughters still live.

The general had a daughter with Va Dary in 2008 and then began drifting away, according to Ms. Lyly.

“She was very unhappy because she didn’t have any freedom,” Ms. Lyly said. “Marintha knew and controlled everything. He never slept at this house. He considered her a girl for fun, not as his wife.”

Feeling shunned and lonely, Va Dary began an online relationship with a Cambodian man studying on a scholarship in Japan, whom she met in late 2013 through her sister. The general found out in January and ordered Va Dary to stop talking with the man. Va Dary asked for a divorce and the general refused because he wanted to keep a “good girl who didn’t go out,” Ms. Lyly said.

On February 15, according to police reports, Maj. Gen. Marintha brought Va Dary and their daughter to his office at GST’s headquarters in Phnom Penh and emerged alone. Hours later, his son-in-law arrived at the building and assigned a security guard to load a large cooler into a Lexus SUV.

Days before the alleged murder, Maj. Gen. Marintha told his staff to buy him large plastic bags. In March, the bodies of Va Dary and her daughter were found in Kompong Speu province, badly decomposed and wrapped in plastic.

Ms. Lyly has replaced pictures of the general on the walls of her home with those of her granddaughter, who used to bring her grandmother ice and check her temperature whenever she had a headache.

“She was so smart,” Ms. Lyly said, wiping away tears.

“It’s so much quieter around here without her. I miss her so much.”

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