A CPP member shot dead Jan 8 in Kompong Speu province might have been the victim of a robbery, not an election-related crime, provincial police said Thursday.
On Wednesday, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Khan Van Thorn’s death might have been politically motivated. He criticized the UN for omitting it from a list of possible election-related deaths.
But provincial police Chief Teh Choy said his preliminary conclusion was that Khan Van Thorn was killed in a personal dispute. He said the victim was a low-level CPP member and not active in the commune council campaign.
He said Khan Van Thorn’s killers made off with gold and demanded $20,000 from his wife after he was shot, but it was unclear if they had intended to rob the family. On Thursday, Khieu Kanharith still disputed the robbery motive, but said it was now unclear if the death was a political killing. “Let the police continue to investigate,” he said.
Khan Van Thorn’s daughter told police her father was called out of his Lak Anlorng village house around 7:15 pm by three armed men—one of them wearing a paramilitary uniform.
A fight ensued, said Deputy Provincial Police Chief Chea Vuth, and Khan Van Thorn was shot several times. The men took his wife about one km from the house and raped her after demanding the money, Chea Vuth said. Chea Vuth said he thinks Khan Van Thorn’s wife knows the killers, but he has not spoken to her because she is receiving medical treatment.