Team of Investigators Also Looked Into Murder of Frenchwoman

A team of French investigators responsible for examining the deaths of a Frenchman and his four children in Kompong Speu province also used their trip to Cambodia last month to conduct an investigation into the recent murder of 25-year-old French­woman Ophelie Begnis, police and embassy officials said Monday.

The naked body of the female tourist was discovered floating near a riverbank in Kampot City’s Andoung Khmer commune on February 10 with wounds inflicted to her head and arms. She had been staying at Les Manguiers guesthouse in Toek Chhou district and was last seen leaving the property on a bicycle a day before her body was discovered.

An investigation by local officials had stalled with no leads, and a reward of $2,500 has been prom­ised to anyone able to come forward with evidence.

Two weeks ago, a team of 10 French officials—an investigating judge accompanied by forensic scientists and police—completed an investigation into the deaths of Laurent Vallier, 42, and his four young children, whose bodies were found at the bottom of a pond inside the Frenchman’s car in January 2012.

Despite Cambodian police having said the deaths were the likely result of a murder-suicide, the French investigators deduced suicide was not a possibility in the case.

Kong Sokhorn, Kampot prov­ince penal police chief, said that after the 10-person team had completed investigations into the deaths of Laurent Vallier and his children, four members of the team traveled to Kampot to look into Ophelie Begnis’ death.

Ophelie Begnis’ family lodged a complaint with the French authorities in February, asking that they investigate her death.

“Four French police officials had opened their investigation for two days into the Frenchwoman’s murder,” Mr. Sokhorn said.

“They sprayed a chemical powder at the spot where we discovered the body and places where we suspected that she was murdered.”

Mr. Sokhorn added that no new evidence has emerged yet in the case.

“Until now, we still haven’t figured out the place where the crime happened but we are continuing to investigate this case,” he said.

The same chemical test was used at Laurent Vallier’s house, where it showed traces of blood on the floor, as well as in a suitcase retrieved from the submerged car.

Nicolas Baudouin, the French Embassy’s first secretary, confirmed Monday that a team of investigators had traveled to Kampot in order to investigate the death of Ophelie Begnis and said the team departed Cambodia on March 23.

“The people went to Kampot because we needed to perform a number of analyses that couldn’t be performed otherwise and it was done in cooperation with the Cambodian police,” Mr. Baudouin said. “The results are not known for the time being,” he added.

(Additional reporting by Dene-Hern Chen)

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