A senior military officer in Battambang province was slashed and beaten to death by a man and his uncle in Samlot district early on Saturday, after the intoxicated soldier was mistaken for being a thief upon entering the family’s house in the dead of night.
Yem Sophal, 48, was a commander in Battalion 552 of Brigade 52, which is headquartered on the Sangker River, east of Pailin. According to the police report, at about 1am on Saturday morning Sophal, after a long drinking session, stumbled into a house owned by a man named Chhay Bol, 32.
The acting police chief in Samlot district, Men Rin, said that Sophal entered the house holding a stick. As he approached the building his footsteps were overheard by Bol, who called out for the approaching man to identify himself. No reply came.
Bol then called for help from his uncle, Un Thun, 40, and awoke other nearby villagers by shouting “thief”. He picked up a scythe that was lying on the ground and slashed the victim in the neck and legs, causing Sophal to fall to the floor in the dark room.
“This is what the suspect said, and it was too dark inside the house for other witnesses to confirm his account of events,” Rin said.
Ny Chhun Noeun, commander of Battalion 522, said his subordinate had used his last breaths to ask him to look after his children.
“When I arrived, Sophal could barely speak. He told me to look after his children, and he also said that he did not do anything wrong. Why did they beat him? Three minutes later, he fell unconscious,” he said.
Chhun Noeun said Sophal had suffered regular bouts of depression over the past two years after his wife left him and his two young daughters.
The shock of losing his wife had led him to drink alcohol regularly, but he had never caused anyone any trouble, he added.
Mao Chhorn, a Samlot district police officer, said two suspects – Bol and his uncle Thun – were arrested at the scene and would be tried in court.
“The perpetrators admitted to [the crime] . . . We arrested them for their own safety.”
Prosecutor Nuon San could not be reached yesterday.