For the second time, an investigating judge at Ratanakkiri Provincial Court has closed the investigation into the murder of Virakchun Khmer newspaper journalist Hang Serei Oudom.
Though a trial date was not set, the end of the investigation over the weekend should move forward a case that started on September 11 when Oudom was found in the trunk of his car. The murder happened only days after an article about illegal logging under Oudom’s byline appeared in the newspaper and implicated King Seanglay, the son of a local military police chief.
It later emerged that Seanglay had been in a traffic scrape with Oudom on the road to Phnom Penh. But along with almost a dozen other suspects, he was released, and the court charged An Bunheng, 37, and his wife, Sim Vy, 35, with premeditated murder. Police said they believe the two had been in contact with Oudom right before his disappearance, and they found a bloody blanket in the couple’s home.
The evidence, however, was not enough for Chhay Thi, provincial co-ordinator for rights group Adhoc. He said that given the article, and the alleged traffic incident – which was a tip from Oudom’s widow – police should have pursued the connection. Oudom’s widow, Im Chanthy, agreed, saying that “this is the decision of the court, but I’m waiting to seek justice for my husband”.
Investigating judge Loch Lao said no one else was charged because no one else needed to be charged, and he conducted a full investigation. In November, Judge Lao closed the investigation, only to have the prosecutor send the case back.
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