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‘Sorcerer’ reassured by police protection

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Rocham Char, a 52-year-old ethnic Jarai villager, has been accused of sorcery and threatened with death.

An ethnic Jarai man accused of being a sorcerer and threatened with death by fellow villagers in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadav district reportedly no longer fears for his safety after police promised to intervene.

Rocham Char, 52, filed a complaint with local rights group Adhoc last week, which stated that villagers had threatened to kill him if another person within the community fell sick.

O’Yadav district police summoned him and his family to their headquarters yesterday for questioning regarding the complaint.

Officials said they offered him protection and promised to educate villagers to avoid any further confusion.

Rocham Char’s family said last week that he had been accused of using black magic to induce severe fevers in residents of the Somkul village in Som Thom commune earlier this month.

Ma Vichet, O’Yadav district police chief, said yesterday that Rocham Char and his family were pleased after protection from villagers was offered in order to help them to stop living in fear of persecution.

“His family is safe again and is confident that police will assist to coordinate with the villagers in order for them not to misunderstand,” he said. “There is no witch! It is the ethnic minorities’ traditional beliefs,” he added.

Ma Vichet added that on Friday he will coordinate with the district governor and commune chief to conduct a public forum to educate villagers and stop them from believing that there is sorcery taking place in the village. He suggested that when villagers become ill with fever, it is usually due to food hygiene problems, which can lead to sorcery allegations.

He added that authorities will also seek to educate villagers about proper hygiene techniques at the forum.

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