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Frenchman’s in-laws questioned

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Police officers investigate the crime scene where the remains of French national Laurent Vallier and his four children were discovered in Kampong Speu province in 2012. Photograph: Derek Stout/Phnom Penh Post

Relatives of a Frenchman and his children who died in mysterious circumstances more than a year ago were questioned at the Kampong Speu Provincial Court yesterday.

The questioning marks the second time in a month that the father-in-law, mother-in-law and sister-in-law of Laurent Vallier have appeared at court.

The group was brought in for questioning on January 2 after applying for titles to two pieces of property owned by Vallier.

Tit Chhoun, the father of Vallier’s wife – who died in 2010 giving birth to the youngest of the couple’s four children – said yesterday he and his wife, Sar Sarvy, and their daughter Lou On appeared at court to explain why they had applied for the land titles.

“The court said they wanted to seek the truth, so they called me for questioning, because they are suspicious over why I applied for the property of my son-in-law. I told them that what I did was following the policies of the government, according to what the village and commune chief told us,” he said.

The village and commune chiefs were summonsed for questioning yesterday, though neither appeared.

“My son-in-law and grandchildren died, so who else should [the land] be put in the name of besides the parents?” asked Chhoun, adding that he made no attempt to hide his application.

The bodies of Vallier and his young children were found in a car submerged in a pond behind his home last January, four months after the family had last been seen.

A preliminary report by Cambodian authorities ruled the death a murder-suicide, but the joint French-Cambodian investigation remains open.

According to investigating judge Chem Rithy, French investigators will be arriving next month to carry out further inquiry.

“We will have more questioning as well, because the village and commune chiefs failed to show,” he added.

Rithy said the family members remain under suspicion.

“We are not sure yet whether what they said was a pretext, but we will continue investigating,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Titthara at titthara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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