A soldier arrested last week as a suspect in the recent murder of a police officer and a forest ranger in Preah Vihear province has started serving a 10-year prison sentence for a years-old armed robbery conviction.
Chan Loeung, a member of the 9th Brigade in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ 3rd Division, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion that he played a part in the November 7 murder of Seang Narong, a ranger for the Forestry Administration’s Chheb division, and Sap Yous, a Chheb district police officer.
The two were part of an overnight patrol of Preah Roka forest searching for illegal loggers and were shot dead in their sleep by a group of assailants who escaped from the scene.
On Sunday, Preah Vihear Provincial Court prosecutor Ly Lon said Mr. Loeung had yet to be charged in connection with the double murder, but had started serving his sentence for a 2001 armed robbery conviction that was handed down in absentia.
“The court convicted him and sentenced him to 10 years in prison,” he said. “We just found him working in Brigade 9 after the two officers were just now gunned down. We suspect that he killed the two officers, but he has denied it.”
Mr. Lon said that in 2011, the soldier and three other men—all still at large—had robbed a family of their gold and that no one was injured. The court could still charge him for the recent murders, he said, but was waiting for a report from the National Police’s central judicial department, which is investigating the case.
In Bora, who heads the department, said his officers were still working to put together a report.
Last week, a police officer who was on the forest patrol that came under attack but escaped with a minor bullet wound told a reporter that Mr. Loeung had personally threatened to kill him about a month ago after his son-in-law was arrested for illegal logging.
Six other men, including another Brigade 9 soldier, were arrested on November 8 as suspects in the double murder.