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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Black magic ends in brown shame

Black magic ends in brown shame

POLICE in remote Srey Veng village, Kampong Cham, forced six men to defecate and

eat the feces at gunpoint July 7. The men were charged with no crime and released

immediately.

The bizarre story stems from an ex-policeman's illness. The wife of Mao Rotneardey,

concerned about him, went to a traditional medical practitioner who said he was sick

because people were practicing magic on him.

The wife suspected Deum Soy and his wife, with whom they had a dispute. She went

to another traditional healer who became possessed with a spirit and called out six

names - those who were causing Rotneardy's illness - which included Deum Soy's.

Soon Rotneardy's former colleagues, the "Red Mountain" provincial police,

were rounding up those named.

"People in this area strongly believe in the magic... when they are sick, they

never think to go to see the doctor, they just go straight to the traditional doctor,"

said Kampong Cham deputy police commissioner Seng Sokhim, who investigated the case.

"And all the time, when they go to the doctor, the doctor tells them it was

because of magic."

Chu Att, 70, was one of those named. He was working in his rice field when police

arrived and carted him off to the station. The police put a gun next to his cheek,

fired it away from his face, and demanded that he defecate, according to human rights

workers.

"I didn't feel I could do it, but since they shot and threatened, I did,"

he reportedly said.

He was then forced to eat his waste. "The first taste didn't taste like anything,

but at the second taste, tears were coming out of my eyes," he reportedly said.

One victim refused to eat, but the police smeared the feces on his mouth.

The next day, the six were too angry to keep quiet. They complained to their commune

chief, and two days later there was a hearing at the headquarters, with the police's

provincial superiors presiding.

Sokhim said the meeting put an end to the incident: "I asked my policemen to

apologize to these people and both sides agreed to finish this story and not accuse

each other any more."

He admitted that the act was a heinous one: "It was very bad for Cambodian morality,

doing that."

Chou Att reportedly added: "Through my 70 years I was never treated as badly

as that. Not even in the Pol Pot regime."

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