Villagers Beat Alleged Sorcerer Unconscious

A traditional healer accused of being a sorcerer was beaten unconscious in Takeo province’s Prey Kabbas district on Friday after becoming involved in a physical dispute with a local villager, police said Wednesday.

Mao Phann, a 57-year-old healer, was set upon by Vong Sam Ol, 37, who had broken into his house after failing to convince authorities to expel Mr. Phann from the village for allegedly making a number of people sick through his wizardry, Angkanh commune police chief Chum Heu said.

“The suspect seized the machete and chopped the victim on the head with it,” Mr. Heu said.

Teu Neang, Angkanh commune chief, said that villagers had long accused Mr. Phann of practicing black magic.

“Both his own relatives and other people in the village accused him of being a sorcerer after they fell sick,” he said.

Villagers had petitioned the commune authorities to expel Mr. Phann from the village but when the request was rejected about 50 villagers went to Mr. Phann’s house and began pelting it with stones and threatening to enter the house if he did not leave, Mr. Heu added.

On his own, Mr. Sam Ol then entered the house and—after wrestling a machete from Mr. Phann—sliced the alleged sorcerer across his temple, before knocking him out with a stone.

Also inside the house, and now armed with an ax, the traditional healer’s 27-year-old daughter, Mao Srey Mom, hacked Mr. Sam Ol on his lower torso three times in self defense, ending the villagers’ seize of the house.

Both men were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.

Ou Vannarith, deputy police chief of Prey Kabbas district, said six people among the crowd of stone throwers had been detained for questioning on Tuesday and then released.

“We arrested six suspects who were in the crowd of villagers for questioning at the police station, but we had to release them,” he said.

“We’re finding it very difficult to find the suspects because many people involved in the attack are now hiding.”

Mr. Vanrith said a case would be opened at the Takeo Provincial Court today to further investigate the dispute.

News of the attack comes shortly after one alleged sorcerer was decapitated on Saturday and another hacked to death on Sunday—both by angry villagers in Kompong Speu province.

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