Siem Reap Provincial Court has acquitted five men and a woman charged with the murder and rape of a 19-year-old woman as well as the murder of her aunt and grandmother, court officials said yesterday.
Provincial Judge Hok Pov said that the suspects—Neng Moeun, 25; Tong Tornt, 22; Heng Bunsom, 21; Prum Sothy, 36; Chorn Chhort, 30; and Penh Bunhieng, 21—were released Tuesday due to a lack of evidence.
“The court decided to acquit them from the brutal triple murder case,” he said.
Early in the morning of Jan 10, an unknown number of assailants entered a house in Wat Svay village and used a meat cleaver to slit the throats of 80-year-old Eng Ly, and her 57-year-old niece Eng Moygech, before raping and killing her 19-year-old granddaughter, Ouk Srey Neang.
Judge Pov said that the court has no suspects or leads in the case.
The six suspects were arrested in January and February and have remained in pretrial detention at the provincial prison ever since.
Deputy Siem Reap city police chief Mok Som On said the men were arrested after police discovered that one of the suspects—Mr. Moeun—had telephoned the youngest victim the day the murders took place. Police also discovered that Mr. Moeun was known to be romantically involved with Ouk Srey Neang.
“A suspect’s phone number was used to call the youngest victim, and five suspects were involved in a land dispute [with the victims],” Mr. Som On said.
Mr. Som On said, however, that the evidence against the suspects was weak and the court had little choice but to release them.
“Now, the police cannot find the real suspects,” he said.