A local journalist was beaten to death in Kampong Chhnang province’s Cholkiri district on Saturday night in an attack that authorities believe may have been related to his reporting on illegal fishing, police said yesterday.
District police officer Tith Reth said that Suon Chan, 44, a reporter for Meakea Kampuchea (Cambodia’s Way) newspaper, was confronted by a group of 10 fishermen as he was leaving his house in Cholkiri district’s Peam Chhkork commune and was beaten unconscious by four of them; he died after being sent for medical treatment.
“He had stones thrown at him, and was beaten with the base of a bamboo stalk by a group of people while he was walking alone out of his house in order to buy cigarettes from a shop in the village,” Reth said. “He was hit and seriously injured on his head and neck, and lost consciousness at the scene.”
“And after the beating, the suspects managed to escape,” he added.
Two relatives of Chan were also beaten after they rushed to his aid upon hearing his cries for help. Both were sent for treatment at the provincial referral hospital.
Commune police chief Duong Vuthy said he suspected that Chan’s killing was motivated by his past reporting on illegal fishing, which had resulted in police crackdowns.
“So far, we do not know the exact reason for this journalist’s assassination, but according to our preliminary investigation, it is related to the rancour between the victim and the group of suspects, because he used his influence as a journalist in reporting and writing about the suspects’ illegal fishing activities in the commune,” Vuthy said.
Vuthy said that police have identified the four suspects and are seeking their arrest.