Trio Charged With Murdering Bunong ‘Sorceress’

The Kratie Provincial Court on Saturday charged three people over the brutal murder of a 32-year-old woman they believed to be a sorceress responsible for a series of mysterious deaths in their community, while a fourth suspect remains at large, officials said Sunday.

Chak Nem, 26, Tray Ean, 56, both men, and Yoy Orn, 58, a woman, were arrested on Thursday for allegedly killing Oum Phatmom—an ethnic Bunong originally from Mondolkiri province—the previous evening in Sambor district’s Kbal Damrei commune, according to deputy district police chief Chhin Sambo.

Mr. Sambo said the suspects admitted to killing the woman, who they blamed for a spate of fatal illnesses in the area.

“The suspects told police that the victim was a sorceress, and that many children got sick and died because of her,” he said, adding that police are still searching for a fourth suspect thought to have been involved in the murder.

Deputy commune chief Sao Torn said Oum Phatmon, who was married to a local farmer, was home alone when the suspects showed up, bound, blindfolded and beat her before taking her about 2 km away, breaking her neck and dumping her in a puddle on the side of the road.

“Her neck was broken after she was taken from her house, and then she was dropped in the puddle,” Mr. Torn said, adding that the victim’s husband had been working in the field when she was abducted.

Chan Sophalla, chief of the Kratie police’s penal bureau, said Mr. Nem, Mr. Ean and Ms. Orn were charged on Saturday with intentional murder with aggravating circumstances, for which they face up to 30 years in prison. The trio was placed in pretrial detention at the provincial prison the same day, he added.

Provincial court prosecutor Ty Sovinthal confirmed the charges.

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