kompong leng district, Kompong Chhnang province – Three CPP supporters allegedly hacked to death two Funcinpec supporters and a Funcinpec activist on Tuesday night, marking the first reported killing of political activists or supporters in Kompong Chhnang.
Police arrested three suspects —brothers Meas Nhoeun, Meas Sreing and Meas Nhong—less than 12 hours after the brutal killings in the area where the killings took place.
The three victims were a family of Funcinpec supporters. One of the victims was 51-year-old Ray Mong Ly, who served as a Funcinpec activist, according to royalist party officials and villagers at the scene of the killing in Poul commune. Ray Mong Ly was the son of slain Ray Kuch and the husband of the other victim, Krim Yan.
“I [killed them] for revenge,” suspect Meas Nhoeun said Wednesday morning. “I am angry with the victims because they practice sorcery.” He said he and his brothers are all CPP supporters.
Police flanked Meas Nhoeun as he spoke to reporters on Wednesday morning and appeared to direct what he should say.
When Meas Nhoeun declared that he is a CPP supporter, an unidentified policeman yelled out, “Why did you say that?” The police at the scene also attempted to keep reporters from asking any questions related to the suspects’ political affiliations.
The three suspects allegedly hacked the Funcinpec members to death late Tuesday night. Two of the victims, 84-year-old Ray Kuch and 48-year-old Krim Yan, were sitting in their home when the three brothers burst into their home and chopped them with an ax and machetes, according to police and two of the suspects.
The three brothers then waited underneath the victim’s house for the activist Ray Mong Ly. When Ray Mong Ly arrived home at around 10 pm, the brothers chased him and then butchered him about 30 meters from the house, the suspects told reporters.
The corpses of the victims, which still lay at the scene of the killings, showed the violence of the attack. The killers severely cut the faces of all three victims and both Ray Kuch and Krim Yan were missing fingers. Ray Kuch’s throat was gashed and his face was also smashed in by the force of the blows.
The only witness to the killing was Meas Krim, the sister of the three suspects and the next-door neighbor to the victims. Although she did not see the actual killing, she said on Wednesday that she heard Ray Mong Ly scream at around 10 pm on Tuesday night. When she went to investigate the killing, she saw some men running away from the scene.
But Meas Krim also said that she overheard her three brothers plotting to kill the family, saying that they were angry because Ray Kuch had cast a spell on their ailing mother—an act of sorcery that they said killed their mother 10 days ago.
As the police paraded Meas Sreing through the village on Wednesday morning, he admitted that he and his brothers killed the Funcinpec family because of their suspected sorcery. Police did not interfere as he gave his statements to reporters.
“This was a personal dispute,” Meas Sreing said.
Commune officials in the area, however, disputed that Ray Kuch was involved in any form of black magic. Suon Sokun, the Funcinpec second commune chief for Poul commune, said that Ray Kuch had no connection to any practice of sorcery but was the “Ar Cha,” or spiritual adviser to young couples wishing to marry.
He did allude to an investigation Ray Mong Ly was conducting involving a high-ranking CPP official who was accused of bribing voters in the area, but he could not elaborate or provide any details.
“This is clearly done to make the people around here scared,” said Khay Khum Heng, the third Funcinpec candidate for Kompong Chhnang who was at the scene of the killing on Wednesday. “The people will be very afraid to vote after this—the murderers are captured but we still worry.”
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Interior’s Central Bureau for Security, which was established for the elections, released a statement on the killings saying that the authorities have conducted an investigation, made arrests and has obtained confessions from all three suspects. The statement went on to say that the motive behind the killing is “revenge” for purported black magic.
Politically, Poul commune is split rather evenly between the CPP and Funcinpec, villagers in the area said. One villager and neighbor to both families, Leng Nang, said it was well known throughout the area that Ray Mong Ly was a Funcinpec activist who was at a party function on the night of the killing. He also said that Ray Mong Ly loaned out a speaker system for the royalist party so they could publicize their message loudly to people in the area.
But he added that the two families had shared good relations for years.
(Additional reporting by Kim Chan)