Suspect Questioned in Machete Murder Case

Police in Kompong Chhnang province on Sunday questioned, though did not arrest, a man suspected of killing his neighbor Saturday night by almost completely hacking his head off.

Kem Sithorn, police chief in Cholkiri district’s Koh Thkov commune, said the incident happened at 10 p.m. on Saturday when the victim, Phann Vannak, 22, and two friends were driving a motorbike to pick up food for a small party he was holding at his home with relatives.

“They returned home after they bought the food and when they slowed down at the corner of the road, they were hacked from behind,” Mr. Sithorn said. “The victim was hacked on the neck. He fell down and died at the scene.”

Mr. Sithorn said the victim was sitting on the back end of the bike’s pillion. When he was slashed on the neck, he fell off, and when the driver and other passenger stopped to pick up their friend, they found his head nearly severed from his neck.

During questioning, they told police it had been too dark to see the attacker, who fled immediately. While police insisted they did not have enough evidence to arrest the suspect, they said they were fairly certain that it is a neighbor with whom the victim had previously fought.

Nem Set, deputy Cholkiri district police chief, said the “revenge” attack followed fighting.

“The two used to fight two times before and it was settled by the commune police,” he said. “We questioned him already and he denied it, so we will continue to find more proof and witnesses.”

Among the evidence police have collected is blood on the suspect’s trousers and witness accounts that a man fitting his description was seen near the victim’s house Saturday night.

But Mr. Set insisted that the evidence was insufficient for arrest as “no witness clarified clearly that they saw him,” and police did not find the murder weapon.

Asked if he was concerned that the suspect might flee after being marked as the prime suspect in the murder, Mr. Set said he was not.

“There is no problem. If he flees, we will send the case file to the court and take action.”

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