Police, Lacking Charges, Free Accused Cannibal Cremators

Unable to find any law that had been broken, police Monday re­leased two Banteay Meanchey province men who allegedly ate the corpse of a man they were sup­posed to cremate, officials said.

Soung Chet, 34, and Chan Soeum, 34, both of Serei Sao­phoan district, had been in custody since last week, when au­thorities allegedly caught them eating the human flesh at Wat Svay Chas, where they worked as cremators.

But provincial court authorities could not find any crime with which to charge them and re­leased them Monday morning—after having them sign a letter promising never to eat human flesh again, Banteay Meanchey province Military Police Chief Ob Bo Renth said.

Authorities said they were powerless under the law. “This is related to the code of ethics, not the penal law,” Ban­teay Mean­chey court Deputy Chief Kem Son said. “We cannot punish them, but we can educate them and get them to stop eating hu­man flesh.”

Police walked in on the men eating the right leg and left hand of a 25-year-old homeless man they had pulled from the crematorium, Ob Bo Renth said. The men told police they were drunk and often enjoyed eating human flesh, Ob Bo Renth said.

In fact, Chan Soeum’s wife told police he described human meat as “delicious,” Ob Bo Renth said. Some district residents believe can­nibalism is addictive, he said.

The incident marked the third time in the last 1 1/2 years that cases of alleged cannibalism have come to provincial courts. Kom­pong Thom province resolved two such cases last year. In the first case, a judge in February 2001 convicted a 32-year-old former Khmer Rouge soldier of kill­ing his friend and eating the dead man’s liver in a dispute over a hidden AK-47. Later that same year, a judge convicted a man of killing his neighbor in 1997 and then frying the dead man’s liver and eating it with rice wine.


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