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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Homes for R'kiri ‘sorcerers’ in short supply

Homes for R'kiri ‘sorcerers’ in short supply

Authorities in Ratanakkiri province are struggling to find a plot of land that could safely house an accused sorcerer who has been held in protective custody at a district police station for the past two months.

Forty-eight-year-old ethnic Jarai Rocham Kin fled his home in the province’s Chrong village in late April after he was accused of using a magical plant to murder his neighbours.

Days later, he was offered shelter at Bakeo district police station, where he has remained ever since with his wife and eight children.

Bakeo District Governor Heng Bunny said plans are now under way to move Kin into a new home, with authorities offering to foot the cost of the land.

“We are thinking of a new place for them; we want them to live in Bakeo district,” Bunny said. “We want to find something for them so that they can live by themselves.”

But, he said, the plan is meeting difficulties.

Kin and his family have been asked to find the money for the new house themselves, which has proved difficult, with few members of the family currently employed.

“It is all right for him to rely on us, but his [older] children should get out and find jobs since they can work now. We can say that they are lazy,” Bunny said.

Kin, however, said his family was keen to return to work, but had struggled to find jobs.

He added that issues with the location of the land had hindered progress with the move, as land previously suggested by the authorities had proved unsuitable.

“The land was in the forest and far away from other people. I do not dare live there, since I am afraid some people may abuse me and my family during the night,” he said.

“If they want me to live in the village, I also do not dare to.”

Romam Thang, a local commune chief and Kin’s uncle-in-law, said rumours of Kin’s sorcery had spread around the province, making the relocation even more difficult given people’s apprehensions.

“In the past, he was a good man, but after he brought the Brateal [the ‘magic’ plant] . . . many people died. Therefore, the villagers do not want him to live in their village,” he explained.

“It is hard to find the place for his family to live.”

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