Police Call for Calm Amid Sorcery Allegations in Ratanakkiri

Authorities in Ratanakkiri province have warned a group of villagers not to use violence against an ethnic Jarai man believed to be a sorcerer, police said Friday.

Rocham Kin, 48, claims that he has faced numerous threats on his life, including an ultimatum Friday to leave his home in Bakeo district’s Kak commune within three days or be killed. 

Bakeo district police chief Mao Sann said Friday that he sent commune police to warn locals in Chung village that they would face prosecution should they attack the man, whether he had magic powers or not.

“Our police told those people not to use violence or kill the suspected sorcerer, otherwise they would be prosecuted,” Mr. Sann said. “Secondly, we told angry villagers to file a complaint with police if they have sufficient evidence against anyone they accuse of sorcery.”

Contacted Friday, Mr. Kin said that he filed a complaint with rights group Adhoc on Thursday. He said a man entered his home Friday with death threats.

“That man told me that he would kill me and my family if we keep living here,” Mr. Kin said, adding that a second warning came later in the day.

“A brother-in-law of mine tried to expel me by giving me three days from today to leave my home or I’d be killed,” he said.

He alleged that his older brother, Rocham Sin, had also turned against him on March 22.

“He came to me, pulled my hair and put a knife to my throat and whispered in my ear that he would cut my throat if his sick children died,” Mr. Kin said. “He accused me of using magic to make his kids sick.”

The alleged sorcerer said that such allegations were not new to him, and that he had fled his home for a short time in October 2011 after he was accused of having a plant that could eat human beings.

“Not only villagers, also blood-related siblings accuse me of being a sorcerer,” Mr. Kin said.

“But I am not,” he added. “If I were a sorcerer, I would use magic to make myself rich.”

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