Villagers’ Sorcery Fears End in Neighbor’s Slaying

A woman accused of practicing sorcery that allegedly made villagers sick was hacked to death with a machete while cooking at her home in Kompong Speu prov­ince’s Samraong Tong district, po­lice said Thursday.

Phat Kimhong, district police chief, said police arrested Koam Pai, 38, on Tuesday on suspicion of kil­ling Som Sorn, 53, for allegedly practicing black magic.

Provincial police Chief Nop Oeun said Thursday that those in­volved would be apprehended and brought to court.

The killing occurred at 5 pm on Mon­day at Som Sorn’s home in Skoh commune’s Thma Samlieng vil­lage while her husband was away, police said.

Phat Kimhong said the suspect’s con­fession has led to the arrest of another five villagers accused of raising money to hire him to slay Som Sorn.

The six suspects appeared at the prov­incial court on Wednesday and were charged with intentional kil­ling and conspiracy, said court clerk Nit Phen.

“There are 14 people who conspired with the killing so police will make more arrests,” Nit Phen said. “They are the ones who raised the money, 10,000 riel ($2.50) each, to hire the killer.”

Rin Sareth, provincial monitor for local rights group Licadho, said some villagers believed Som Sorn was practicing witchcraft after their families became sick.

“It was rumored a long time that [Sum Sorn] could practice sorcery,” he said.

In June 2004, accused sorcerer Iem Khon, 57, and his sons Sorn No­eun, 25, and Sorn South, 15, were shot dead by two assailants armed with M-16 and AK-47 rifles in Samraong Tong district’s Voasar com­mune.


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