A Sam Rainsy Party district chief in Siem Reap province has been charged with hacking to death a CPP commune chief and his wife earlier this month, officials said Thursday.
The Siem Reap provincial court charged Yao Dara, also known as Yao Yun, with killing Kreal Bun and his wife, Nov Uth, in Thnorl Tortoeung commune, Banteay Srei district, on Dec 11, said Ang Ngal Tey, investigating judge for the court.
Local police called Yao Yun to answer questions about the killings Monday and arrested him afterward, said a Banteay Srei district police officer who declined to be identified.
Police said a young relative of the couple was present on the night of the killing, but could not identify the killer.
“It is not a political killing—it was a dispute over sorcery,” the officer said. “The suspect [Yao Yun] denied being involved with the killing.”
Sorcery was blamed by police for several killings in the months leading up to the February commune council elections.
The police investigation found that in May 2001 Yao Yun had an argument with Nov Uth because he suspected her of sorcery, the officer said. The officer also said that Yao Yun killed a district police chief in 1981 and served a seven-year prison term for the crime, which was further evidence used against the accused.
Sam Rainsy Party officials say Yao Yun is being framed by police in an attempt to intimidate opposition party members.
“We believe the CPP is using this to cover up the killings of others by blaming an opposition member of the killing,” said Son Chhay, Siem Reap province parliamentarian for the Sam Rainsy Party. “They are using these killings as a tactic to crack down on dissidents.”
Yao Yun lived only a few houses away from the victim, and, according to Son Chhay, he had no relation to the victim other than a neighborly friendship.
(Additional reporting by David Kihara)