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‘Sorcerer’ killed in Kampong Speu

POLICE in Kampong Speu province say they are investigating the death of an accused sorcerer in the province’s Oral district on the weekend.

Sieng Soeun, 51, had his throat slit by unknown assailants on Saturday night, as he was walking home after drinking palm sugar juice with his friends in Tasal commune.

Oral district Deputy Police Chief Buth Bunthoeun said that the motive for the killing remained obscure, and refused to comment on whether police have any suspects.

“I found there are many people that live around him who hate him and believe that the victim knows about sorcery, but I don’t know the real reason behind the killing yet,” he said yesterday.

“We are investigating whether the man was killed for personal reasons or accusations of sorcery, and I can’t say more about how many killers there were or where they come from because it is an ongoing investigation.”  

Rath Thavy, provincial monitor for local rights group Adhoc, said that it was difficult to evaluate cases in which the victims are accused of sorcery.

“It can be an excuse if the killers accuse the victim of sorcery, because they may have a personal motive and could kill the victim [for that reason],” Rath Thavy said.  

He added that this was the first death of an accused sorcerer in Kampong Speu province so far this year, though two people were accused of sorcery in the province in 2010.

Sorcery charges are not uncommon in rural Cambodia, which has seen eight instances of accused sorcerers being killed since 2008, according to a recent report by rights group Licadho.

Chhay Thy, Adhoc’s rights monitor in Ratanakkiri province, said there have been five documented cases of witchcraft in the province since 2003.

“There were five cases of witchcraft and three of those people were killed,” he said.

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