A 42-year-old woman in Preah Sihanouk province was robbed and killed after reportedly receiving $3,000 to withdraw a lawsuit against a 44-year-old French man charged with sexually abusing her son, police and an anti-pedophile NGO said Monday.
Pen Touth was forcibly drowned late Friday night in a stream near her Mittapheap district home by robbers who stole three damlung of gold worth nearly $3,000 as well as a television and VCR, said provincial anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection bureau deputy police chief Soun Sophan.
The victim had purchased the gold after receiving $3,000 last week from a lawyer working for Michel Blanchard, the man accused of sexually abusing her 8-year-old son, Soun Sophan said. He added that police believe Pen Touth was targeted by the robbers because it was well known that she had received the cash payment—a large sum for someone in her community—to drop her case against the French man.
“It was involved with the money for withdrawing the lawsuit; there was ‘paperwork running’ by a lawyer who gave $3,000 to the victim,” Soun Sophan said.
“Running paperwork” is a term for when a facilitator or broker works to influence the decision
of a court from outside the
Provincial penal police chief Kol Phally said that two or three people conducted the robbery and killing, adding that they had decided to kill the woman because they were known to her.
Kol Phally said police have already identified suspects but they have all fled the area.
Seila Samleang, country director of anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said Pen Touth and another mother recently met with an APLE attorney representing the four boys, aged between 8 and 17, allegedly abused by Blanchard, who was charged in August with indecent acts and buying child prostitutes.
At that meeting, Seila Samleang alleged, the two mothers asked about money being offered to them by the French man’s well-known lawyer, Dy Borima.
Seila Samleang said he advised the women that they should not accept cash, adding, however, that they ended up taking the money, which apparently was bumped up from $2,500 to $3,000.
Seila Samleang alleged that an assistant to Dy Borima, whose name he didn’t know, had given the money to the two mothers and drove them to Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court to withdraw the suit against Blanchard.
“After receiving the money inside the car, they were taken to the court to withdraw the lawsuit,” Seila Samleang said.
The withdrawals by the mothers of their complaints against Blanchard didn’t stop the ongoing court investigation, he added, but he believes the two boy victims will likely change their testimony at trial.
Contacted by telephone Monday, Dy Borima stated repeatedly that he was unaware of any money changing hands in order to end the case against Blanchard.
“I really defend Michel Blanchard, but I am not aware” of the compensation deal, Dy Borima said, adding that he was also not aware of Pen Touth’s killing.