Observer Stabbed, Shot to Death; Candidate Found Hanged

Two more deaths with possible political connections were reported as Cambodians went to the polls.

In Svay Rieng province, election observer Sao Savon, 31, was found Friday at his home in Romeang Tbkoul commune with his hands bound, multiple knife wounds on his body and face, and gunshot wounds to the head.

On Saturday, Sam Rainsy Party candidate Ban Bon, 38, apparently hanged himself after a family quarrel in Krang Yov commune, Kan­dal province, police said, though party members disputed it.

According to the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections, Sao Savon was a rice farmer who had been registered as a Nicfec observer since 1999.

Police in Svay Rieng could not be reached for comment Sunday. Nicfec Executive Director Hang Puthea said: “I cannot say this is a political killing yet, but it makes me wonder, because this killing happened during the campaign.”

According to Nicfec, neighbors heard shouts coming from near Sao Savon’s home. The neighbors also heard someone shout: “If anyone comes near, we will shoot them!”

The neighbors heard a gunshot and saw two armed men leaving the village on Sao Savon’s motorbike, according to Nicfec.

Kandal police Chief Ek Kret said Ban Bon became upset during a family dinner when some of his eight children behaved disrespectfully.

Ek Kret said Ban Bon had tried to take his life previously, after a fight with his mother, by overdosing on sleeping pills.

But Chan Cheng, Sam Rainsy Party branch chief for Kandal, said he believes Ban Bon was killed and a suicide staged. “This is an intentional murder for political reasons,” he said.

Chan Cheng, who visited Ban Bon’s family Sunday, said they told him they are suspicious because he was found with a rope around his neck, tied to the ceiling, but he was kneeling on the floor instead of hanging in the air.

He said Ban Bon was a “gentle and hardworking candidate for the party,” and that he was killed because he was popular.

The party wants to exhume the body for further investigation. Ek Kret said an autopsy was not performed before burial because the family did not want one, and that they had told police he killed himself because of a family dispute.

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