Three ethnic hill tribe men have been arrested and charged with murder in the Khmer New Year killing of a hill tribe woman and her three children in Ratanakkiri province, police said Monday.
“It is very brutal,” said Chea Bunthoeun, Ratanakkiri deputy police chief. “A case where all the children were killed like this has not happened for centuries.”
The suspects—Yok Neng, 25, Vik No, 55 and Chang Vang, 41—were arrested April 27 in remote Taveng district near the Vietnam border and are being held in a provincial prison awaiting trial, Chea Bunthoeun said.
Police said Pus Sin and her three children, one of them a
3-year-old girl, were hacked to death on April 14, the second day of Khmer New Year in Taveng’s Reang Vinh village, Taveng Leur commune. Pus Sin’s husband and three other sons were in the forest searching for fruit at the time.
Based on confessions from the suspects, police said the men waited until Pus Sin’s husband left the family’s plantation to look for fruit and then invited her and her children to a “drinking party” at their plantation about 1 km away.
Pus Sin’s husband previously accused the three suspects of sabotaging his plantation, police said.
The husband, who police did not identify, allegedly accused Yok Neng of destroying his chili plantation last year. He accused Vik No of stealing his bananas. And the husband scolded Chang Yang for allowing his buffalo to eat the family’s rice crop, police said.
“The disputes were very minor, but the suspects are very cruel,” Chea Bunthoeun said.
After drinking with Pus Sin at the party, the suspects followed her and her children home and hacked them to death with machetes, police said. Authorities found two machetes on the suspects when they were arrested.
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights reported the suspects’ arrests Friday.