Sam Rainsy Party Activist Strangled to Death

A Sam Rainsy Party activist was killed Sunday in Siem Reap pro­vince as opposition party officials cautioned that their followers are facing increasing peril without police protection.

Pech Loy, 31, was strangled at midnight while coming home from a Khmer New Year’s party in Knath commune, Puok district, Siem Reap Judicial Police Chief Ou Em  said Tuesday.

Ou Em said three suspects were detained for questioning and that villagers had complained the victim practiced black magic to spread illness among them.

That explanation was rebuked by Siem Reap opposition parliamentarian Ke Sovannaroth, who said Tuesday the victim was a regular villager working for his party.

“It is a lie,” she said, adding she had little faith authorities could catch and prosecute the killers.

She stopped short of calling the slaying political, but said she reported the incident to human rights groups. The killing is the third fatal attack on Sam Rainsy Party acti­vists this month, according to par­ty Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang. Several others have been injured, he said.

“I am very concerned about the party activists’ security. We are desperate with the authorities, because they cannot arrest the perpetrators,” he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak denied there was a spike in killings or that the opposition party members  deaths were not investigated properly.

The slaying comes on the heels of a separate killing in Bat­tambang province, in which opposition activist Chhoeurng Reuth, 43, was beaten and hacked with an ax in Banan district’s Ta Kream commune on April 6.

No one has been arrested in that case, district police Chief Chea Sambo said Tuesday.

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