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Journalist’s murder still under investigation

The editor-in-chief of Vorak-chun Khmer newspaper said yesterday he could not make any assumptions about the motive behind the murder of journalist Hang Serei Oudom, whose body was discovered on Tuesday.

“Most of his reports were about illegal logging. Other stories were traffic accidents and protocol news,” Rin Ratanak said, highlighting that Oudom covered a variety of topics.

Ratanak did point out that Oudom’s most recent article in the Ratanakkiri province newspaper before his death implicated the son of a provincial military commander in illegal logging activities.

Oudom, 44, disappeared on Sunday when he left his house about 7pm for a meeting.

His corpse, which police said bore wounds probably inflicted by an axe, was found in the trunk of a 1996 Toyota Camry in O’Chum district, according to a statement by the paper.

Oudom’s wife, Im Chanthy, said she did not have any names to give the police, because her husband seldom told her where he went or if he had disputes with people.

When he left, he told her he would be out just for a while.

A second day of searching yesterday had yielded no new information, according to Song Bun­tharnorm, head of the serious-crimes office in Ratanakkiri.

“It is a premeditated murder, so we must do more investigating to search for the criminal,” Bun­tharnorm said.

He said officials had conclu-ded the killer used “a baton or an axe” to cut the victim. The autopsy said he was bludgeoned once on the back of the head and three times on the face.

The attacker or attackers left only the identification card from the newspaper, he said, adding that police are providing protection for the family.

This is the first killing of a journalist since 2008, when reporter Khim Sambo and his 21-year-old son were gunned down in the street.

Counting Oudom, 11 journalists have been slain since 1994, according to the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

The Club of Cambodian Journalists and CCHR issued statements calling for a thorough investigation, raising alarm bells about the impact of the murder on freedom of expression in Cambodia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at channyda.chhay@phnompenhpost.com
With assistance from Joe Freeman

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