Villagers Beat 2 Teenage Suspects to Death

Two teen-agers were brutally beaten to death in Khmounh commune, Russei Keo district, by an angry mob Monday after they were accused of stealing a motorbike, local police officials said.

Villagers claimed the teens had stolen from residents of the village before.

The alleged robbery took place in Samrong village, which is near Anlong Kragnan village, where the two victims had recently moved after the squatter camp they lived in behind the Bassac Theater in Phnom Penh burned down in late November.

The two teens had been suspected of stealing the motorbike  Sunday, and the villagers recognized them when they returned.

Upon seeing the teen-agers return, the villagers shouted: “The thieves are coming! The thieves are coming!” said El Rany, penalty police chief for Rus­sei Keo district. The cries attracted other villagers, who chased the teens into a nearby rice field, surrounded them, and beat them with sticks, sickles and spade handles until they were dead, El Rany said.

“Local authorities could not stop them because the villagers were so angry at the thieves,” El Rany said. “The mob hit our village chief, too, because he tried to stop the mob.”

Vong Kim Heang, 17, and Var Songdy, 16, died on the spot, El Rany said. No arrests were made.

In November, a mob beat to death two 20-year-old men suspected of stealing a motorbike in Russei Keo district. In December an enraged mob pulled a suspected motorbike thief off the back of another motorbike in Chamkar Mon district. as he was making his getaway. That man was also beaten to death.

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