Five men were questioned by the Stung Treng Provincial Court on Thursday after they were arrested on suspicion of illegally trapping, stealing and then killing a cow that belonged to a commune official in Sesan district on Tuesday, police said.
Khang On, 60, the first deputy chief of Talat commune, reported one of his 14 cattle missing from his rice field on Tuesday afternoon, according to commune police chief Sorn Bunhuot. A team of officers sent to search for the missing bovine found five suspects carving up the carcass of the missing cow in a nearby forest.
“After following their trail about 5 km into the forest, we found the suspects were cutting the cow and sharing the meat, but all the suspects ran away,” Mr. Bunhuot said, adding that they did not take any meat with them.
Upon inspecting the area, police concluded the suspects had used an illegal wire trap to catch the cow.
“Based on the inspection, the suspects put the trap in the forest near the rice field and when the cow got into their trap, they brought the cow into the forest,” he said.
Despite initially evading police officials, Lao Thun, 26, was detained at his home at around 8:30 p.m. that evening, while Thai Ma, 20, and To Chamrong, 22, were arrested in Khsach Thmey village on Wednesday, he said. Say Sokhom, 33, and Chan Thaisay, 35, turned themselves in to commune police later that day.
Upon arrest, all five suspects admitted to stealing and killing the cow, Mr. Bunhuot said, adding that locals had suspected Mr. Thaisay of stealing their cattle in the past.
Tan Nimul, deputy provincial police chief, said the suspects—who he believed had planned to sell the meat—were sent to the provincial court Thursday afternoon for questioning.
“The perpetrators used a trap to catch the cow and then they planned to cut the meat and send it by car to sell in other provinces,” Mr. Nimul said, adding that questioning of the suspected cow thieves would continue today.