Stung Treng Provincial Court on Monday charged two of five men arrested for their alleged involvement in the killing of a human rights activist in Sesan district on Wednesday, the court’s Deputy Prosecutor Mann Khampuon said.
Mann Khampuon said that Sy Vuthy was arrested and charged Monday with the intentional killing of Seng Sarorn, 45, an activist with local rights group Adhoc, and leader of a community group to protect local forest and fishing grounds in Sre Kor commune. The court also charged Taing Huth as an accomplice in the killing, he said.
Mann Khampuon added that Taing Huth, who was arrested Friday, confessed to his involvement in the killing and named Sy Vuthy as the man who shot the victim from beneath the floorboards of his wooden stilted house with an AK-47.
Sy Vuthy, however, has not confessed, Mann Khampuon said, adding that the court will consider whether to charge the three other arrested men, Har Khong, Fern Law and Sre Kor commune police chief Kang Mao.
Sarorn Seng, the son of the victim, said that Har Khong is his uncle and that he strongly doubted that he had anything to do with his father’s death.
Ek Sivandon, deputy provincial police chief, said Sunday that Har Khong and Fern Law were arrested on Friday for borrowing an assault rifle from commune police chief Kang Mao to go hunting, though it is unclear how that weapon could have ended up being used in the killing.
Ek Sivandon reiterated police claims that Seng Sarorn was killed following a dispute over a fishing boat.
On Friday, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 22 human rights NGOs, issued a statement condemning the killing and citing reports that a private agro-industry firm that has received government land concessions in the area had interfered in the police investigation of Seng Sarorn’s death.
Chan Soveth, Adhoc’s chief of investigations, said Sunday that he believed Seng Sarorn, who was a CPP commune chief candidate in April’s commune elections, was killed because of his involvement in forestry and fisheries protection.
Both Chan Soveth and Sarorn Seng said Monday that representatives from the firm donated $200 to Seng Sarorn’s family for his funeral. The firm could not be contacted for comment.