A man suspected in the murder of a 5-year-old Ratanakkiri province boy was found hanged in his cell Thursday, police said.
Kiet Tanol, 59, was arrested Tuesday in Lumphat district’s Seda commune a day after villagers found the brutally-beaten body of 5-year-old Lan Sen in a forest 100 meters from the suspect’s village of Samout Leu, district police chief Soy Thay said Friday.
Police found Kiet Tanol hanging in his cell Thursday at noon, he said.
Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator of the rights group Adhoc, called the death “really strange” and in need of investigation.
He added that he wants to examine the body to determine if Kiet Tanol had been tortured and is trying to contact the man’s family.
“This death is an irregular case because police should have been stationed to watch the suspect,” he said.
He found it particularly strange that police said the man’s feet were touching the floor, he said.
Soy Thay said that the death was definitely a suicide.
A second suspect, Than Lev, confessed to the murder of the toddler and claimed that Kiet Tanol had agreed to pay him $50 to kill the boy because of a dispute with boy’s mother, Soy Thay said.
“The dead suspect was scared after the second suspect confessed,” he said. “[Kiet Tanol] was afraid that he would be sentenced and prosecuted severely. That’s why he committed suicide.”
“Nobody tortured him to death,” he said, adding that the suspect’s body will be cremated this weekend.
Provincial police chief Ray Rai said that Kiet Tanol’s family was at the police station during questioning Thursday and would have heard Kiet Tanol being mistreated if it had happened.
The family was also in the police station when Kiet Tanol died, he said.
“It is good fortune for police, because the family members of the dead suspect were around with police,” he said. “Otherwise, we would face serious allegations of torturing the suspect to death.”
Relatives of Kiet Tanol could not be reached for comment Friday.