A 44-year-old soldier is on the run after allegedly killing his commander with a machete in Banteay Meanchey province on Wednesday, a military official said Thursday.
Te Bunthoeun, a sergeant major in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Brigade 51, allegedly killed Nget Kong Rith, the 28-year-old commander of the brigade’s Company 51, after the victim intervened in a dispute between the drunken suspect and his wife, said Seng Phearin, deputy chief of the brigade’s secretariat.
According to Mr. Phearin, Mr. Bunthoeun returned home from the brigade’s headquarters—where he had been drinking heavily—at about 7 p.m. and soon got into a heated exchange with his wife, a regular occurrence.
Fearing violence, his wife, Bun Chanthon, made a call to Nget Kong Rith, asking her husband’s superior to intervene in the dispute, which he had done before, Mr. Phearin said.
When the commander arrived, he too began arguing with Mr. Bunthoeun, who had become increasingly agitated and was threatening his wife with violence, Mr. Phearin said.
“When the victim arrived, the suspect did not stop abusing his wife and continued to be arrogant, so the commander slapped him twice.”
Mr. Bunthoeun then retreated into his house, he said, but emerged minutes later with a machete, approached his victim unseen and struck, Mr. Phearin said.
“The suspect chopped the victim’s throat two times, killing him instantly, and then fled the scene,” he said.
“It may be that the victim thought the suspect went inside to sleep. Also, the victim would not imagine that his soldier would act like this.”
Keo Bunyeoun, chief of police in Preah Netr Preah district, where the murder took place, said a search for Mr. Bunthoeun had been launched in cooperation with military police and members of Brigade 51.
“After questioning the suspect’s wife, I found that this dispute was because he was drunk,” Mr. Bunyeoun said. “[Ms. Chanthon] said that she was often threatened with violence by her husband and always called [Nget Kong Rith] to help.”
Ms. Chanthon regularly turned to Nget Kong Rith because he was physically bigger than her husband and had successfully placated him in the past, he added.
Mr. Bunyeoun said he suspected Mr. Bunthoeun had fled across the border to Thailand.