A mentally ill street seller was arrested in Koh Kong province Tuesday night for beating a Thai man to death with a wooden pole outside a restaurant owned by the victim’s children, police said Wednesday.
The victim, Surachai Sovankampo, 53, was a regular visitor to Koh Kong and had recently returned via the Cham Yeam border checkpoint to visit his children at the restaurant in Khemara Phoumint City, according to deputy city police chief Min Reaksmey.
Witnesses told police that Sin Sarath, 38, a street seller with a history of violent episodes leading to arrest, approached Surachai Sovankampo as he sat outside the restaurant in Smach Meanchey commune, asking that the Thai man buy his wares, Mr. Reaksmey said.
“The suspect tried to sell him some goods, such as chewing gum and tiger balm. I am not sure what [Surachai Sovankampo] said to him, but it made him very angry.”
A short time later, Mr. Sarath returned with a 2-meter wooden pole and used it to repeatedly strike Surachai Sovankampo on the head, Mr. Reaksmey said.
“He can’t control his feelings and went to get a stick and beat the victim badly, causing injuries that led to his death on the way to the hospital,” he said.
Doctors determined that the victim died of blood loss after suffering a broken chin, broken nose, broken jaw and a cracked skull, according to Mr. Reaksmey.
He said police found the bloodied weapon a few streets away from the crime scene and arrested the suspect after a brief chase about 20 minutes after the attack.
Khemara Phoumint police chief Riel Chandara said Mr. Sarath had been arrested three times in the past two years for unprovoked attacks.
“He has a hospital-issued certificate certifying that he has a mental illness,” he said, adding that Mr. Sarath previously inflicted only minor injuries and that on each occasion his elderly mother had promised to control his behavior.
“This time, it’s a big problem,” Mr. Chandara said, adding that the suspect was still being questioned by police.
“This time we need to send him to the court to be charged.”