Two Banteay Meanchey cremators were scheduled to appear today in provincial court where they could face charges stemming from an incident in which they allegedly ate the body of a man they were supposed to cremate, authorities said Sunday.
Officials were seeking charges against Soung Chet, 34 and Chan Seuom, also 34, both of Serei Saophoan district, Banteay Meanchey Military Police Deputy Chief Ob Bo Renth said. Police arrested the men Wednesday, alleging they were eating a man who they had been asked to cremate.
The men got drunk and ate the remains of a homeless man named Ron, 25, who died of a drug overdose the night before, Ob Bo Renth said.
Police found Ron’s body Tuesday and took it to Svay Chas pagoda, where Soung Chet and Chan Seuom worked as cremators, Ob Bo Renth said. The men started to burn Ron’s body but put the fire out after a moment. They then severed the dead man’s right leg and left hand and began eating them with chili salt, the deputy chief said.
Horrified villagers were passing by the pagoda and saw the men eating the leg. They called military police. When authorities arrived, officers found partial remains of Ron’s severed leg near the crematorium, Ob Bo Renth said.
The men have confessed to the cannibalism, Ob Bo Renth said.
Chan Seuom’s wife told police her husband admitted last week’s incident was not the first time he has eaten humans, Ob Bo Renth said. He and his partner allegedly ate corpses “all the time” because they find human flesh to be “delicious,” Ob Bo Renth said.
The incident has disturbed residents of the district, some of whom believe cannibalism is addictive, Ob Bo Renth said.
But neither man may face jail time for the incident, provincial Prosecutor Nhoung Thol said. There is no specific mention of cannibalism in Cambodia’s Untac code and authorities may have to release the men if they cannot find appropriate charges, he said.
“This is a very strange case,” Nhoung Thol said.