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Journo’s blood not on blanket: attorney

Blood found on a blanket in the home of two suspects accused of murdering Ratanakkiri journalist Hang Serei Oudom does not match the victim’s, according to a defence attorney in the case.

Police discovered Oudom’s lifeless and bludgeoned body in the trunk of a car parked in O’Chum district on September 11.

A Vorakchun Khmer newspaper journalist, Oudom may have made enemies in his articles probing illegal logging.

Investigators, however, soon turned their attention to a local couple, An Bunheng, a former Ratanakkiri military police officer, and his wife, Sim Srey Vy, acquaintances of Oudom. Bunheng was with Oudom the night he disappeared, police said, and a later raid uncovered the blanket at the home of Bunheng  and Srey Vy in Banlung town.

Tep Monicheath, one of three defence attorneys representing the suspects, said the blood was sent to a lab in Vietnam, and the results came back negative. He called other evidence, such as the pair of shoes found near the suspects’ house, circumstantial.

“I would like to ask the court to release my clients, because no evidence or any witnesses pointed or proved that my clients killed him,” he said, after the final hearing of the case yesterday. A verdict is expected on April 30.

Monicheath said Oudom could have rubbed many people the wrong way with his aggressive reporting tactics. The last article he wrote singled out the son of the provincial military commander, but he was questioned and later released.

Hok Phalla, appointed by rights group Adhoc to represent the victim’s family, disagrees, arguing that the husband was one of the last people to call Oudom. Phalla also said that according to testimony, Oudom, the husband and the son of the military commander came to the home of the suspects on the night Oudom disappeared.

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