At Wat Langka on Monday afternoon, family and friends waited for the cooling ashes of two teenage sisters and their 4-year-old cousin, who were savagely killed by attackers at their home in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district on Sunday morning.
“The killers tortured the victims with electricity and waited for about an hour for the victims’ mother to come home,” municipal police chief Touch Naruth said by telephone on Monday.
“This is a case of revenge,” the police chief said of the triple killing, which was carried out by two men who, after torturing their young captives, finally smashed their skulls with a steel pipe and left with cash and jewelry.
The father of the slain girls and uncle of the young boy, Tep Darong, who is director of the Royal Academy for Judicial Professionals, sat near his wife in a group of white-shirted government officials during Monday’s cremation ceremony, looking at the crematorium.
His wife, Im Phally, sat in the shade on a mat in a huddle of women, and would sometimes lie down, disappearing into the bodies sitting around her. Her head was bandaged—a large spot of blood showing through the white cloth. Flowers and fruit surrounded photos of the deceased.
Ms Phally, police said, received a blow to her head from a steel pipe after she was called back to her house, where the two armed men had gained entry and had tied up and tortured the three children. Her daughter had been forced to make the telephone call to ask her mother to return home, police said.
“It is too sad for my life,” Mr Darong said in an interview. “I have no idea what to say, and now I have no more children.”
At the time of the incident, Mr Darong said, he was in Takeo province for Sunday’s council election.
Both his daughter, 17-year-old Im Chanbory, and his adopted daughter, 15-year-old Im Srey Pich, died on the way to the hospital Sunday, and his nephew, Im Raza, died of his wounds at about 1:30 pm.
Police have no suspects, Phnom Penh’s police chief said, adding that the attackers, whom he did not believe were motivated solely by robbery, also took jewelry, and nearly $29,000 in cash.
Police are working with Ms Phally to identify suspects, Mr Naruth said, adding that the killers may have known the victims, as there was no sign of forced entry.
“It is not the youth gang,” Mr Naruth reiterated. “If it were a youth gang, they would only take money and the victims’ belongings and escape. There would be no need to kill the victims.”
Only last week, Mr Darong was in the spotlight amid claims that students at his school, which trains the country’s judges, were paying between $20,000 and $30,000 just to be eligible for a position in the courts following graduation.
Mr Darong and senior officials at the Council of Ministers had denied the charges of kickbacks for judicial positions, which were broadcast in a Voice of America radio program that claimed to have interviewed several students at the school.