Swarms of flies led villagers to the shallow grave of a slain Sam Rainsy Party activist on Friday, the penal police chief of Kompong Chhnang province said Sunday.
Chim Bunthoeun said that Sok Dam, 49, was found with his head battered and throat cut in a Tapeang Chan commune rice field in Baribor district.
He said several bloody lengths of bamboo, spiked with nails, were found near the body.
Four sets of footprints have police searching for four killers, the police chief said.
He added that villagers are talking about Sok Dam’s involvement in black magic as motivation for his killing.
“We will find out if the victim practiced black magic. It will be easy to find the killers, because it is a personal dispute,” Chim Bunthoeun said.
“It is not politically motivated, and we do not care about party [affiliation], but we do find the killers. It is my work,” he said.
The Sam Rainsy Party issued a statement Friday decrying the killing and calling for a proper investigation.
It also said that Sok Dam had organized a successful petition last year, urging “CPP individuals” to allow villagers to use a local lake. The statement said he had received death threats since then.
When told that police suspected black magic to be a motive in the case, Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Ung Bun Ang laughed and said, “That’s what we expected.”
The US’ 2003 report on human rights in Cambodia noted that allegations of sorcery may have been used to account for politically motivate killings.
A local human rights monitor said Sunday that three local CPP officials had left town abruptly for Siem Reap province after Sok Dam’s grave was found.
“The villagers suspect that these men could have been involved,” he said.
Sam Rainsy Party Secretary General Eng Chhay Eang said Sunday that seven of his party’s grassroots-level activists have been slain in the past seven months. He said none of the culprits has been caught.