Police Say Murder Suspect Linked to Four Other Killings

One of four men charged Monday with intentional killing in a gold merchant’s death in Kompong Cham province is believed to be an escaped convict who killed two children in 2002 and also allegedly confessed to two other unsolved murders after his arrest last week, police said yesterday.

Police are still investigating the confessions supposedly made after the arrest of the suspect, initially identified as 25-year-old Heng Vanna, but believed to be convicted child murderer Vang Ben, said Chan Hor, deputy chief of the central judicial police bureau in Kompong Cham.

Mr Vanna, along with three others, were charged in the Nov 4 killing and robbery of gold merchant Chhorn Leang, who was shot to death at his home, provincial court president Huth Sam Ath said.

During the questioning of Mr Vanna, police discovered that his wallet contained the ID card of Nuon Saron, a 41-year-old woman slain and robbed in July in Tbong Khmum district.

“The suspect started confessing to the crime after police found the victim’s ID card,” deputy police chief Mr Hor said. After Mr Vanna arrived at the provincial prison on Monday, the director recognized him as Vang Ben and used prison files to verify that identify, he said. Mr Vanna subsequently admitted that he was Vang Ben, he added.

He said police are still investigating two unsolved murders that Mr Vanna confessed to, but plan to send the cases to the court after police find enough evidence.

Keo Noraphy, deputy police chief of Ponhea Krek district, said Vang Ben was convicted in 2002 in the beating death a 13-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl after a robbery.

In September 2008 Vang Ben escaped from Kompong Cham provincial prison and days later allegedly kidnapped a 6-year-old girl, attempting to hold her for ransom from the girl’s family who alerted police, Mr Hor said.

“Because suspect Heng Vanna learned about the report to police, he killed the girl and stomped her into the mud,” he said. Provincial police at the time of the murder identified Vang Ben as the suspect.

Mr Hor said that following that crime, the suspect waited two years before he lured his friend Ms Saron from Prey Veng to Kompong Cham province, where he robbed her of about $1,000 and her jewelry, he said. She was later found beaten to death.

Neang Sovath, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the lengthy confession was remarkable and that Adhoc would investigate police claims to see if the confession was made under any duress.

But he said police competence was often limited, allowing suspects to go on crime sprees.

“Sometimes the suspect commits a lot of crimes too,” he said.


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