POLICE yesterday questioned a man suspected in connection with the brutal murder of three family members whose slashed and beaten bodies were found in their home in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district on Tuesday.
The three victims –16-year-old Ry Nalin and her parents, 52-year-old Ry Saron and 46-year-old Ne Sovannary – were found in their home in Village 7 with their hands tied behind their backs and their throats cut.
Meanchey district police said yesterday that they had apprehended a 35-year-old male suspect at 11pm on Tuesday night, and that he was being temporarily detained for questioning.
At 4pm yesterday, district police chief Hy Narin said no charges had been laid, but that questioning, which had begun early in the morning, was still ongoing.
“We arrested him and have to question him until he gives an answer or admits to the crime,” he said. Hy Narin said the suspect had been arrested because police saw him “and an accomplice” near the victims’ house around the time the killings were thought to have taken place on Tuesday morning.
“We are not certain he is among the killers, but we doubt him because he used to go to the victims’ house,” he said.
During questioning yesterday, the suspect denied any involvement in the murders and said he hadn’t even visited the house on Tuesday, Hy Narin said, though he added that he did admit to stealing from the family “many times”.
Chan Soveth, a senior monitor for the right group Adhoc, said yesterday that police didn’t have enough evidence to detain and question the suspect.
“Before police detain a suspect for questioning, they should investigate to make sure [they have enough evidence],” he said, and added that unnecessary early arrests might make it easier for the “real murderer” to escape.
Ry Ratha, a relative of the three victims, said yesterday that he was confident the killers would be brought to justice.
“I completely believe the police will find and arrest those who killed my family,” he said.
Probes into other recent multiple homicide cases have yielded mixed results.
On October 9, a 47-year-old woman, her 24-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old waitress were shot dead in Kandal province’s Takhmao town.
Iv Chamroeun, the provincial police chief, said yesterday that some progress had been made in that case, but that there had been no arrests.
“I have not yet arrested the suspected man, but I have some clues about this case,” he said. He declined to comment further because the investigation was ongoing.
At least three other multiple homicide cases have been reported to police this year.
In August, 35-year-old Kouch Samnang allegedly murdered five family members and injured three others before taking his own life in Svay Rieng province.
According to police, the violence began when Kouch Samnang was prevented from raping Srey Mab, his 16-year-old sister-in-law, whom he had allegedly sexually assaulted twice before.
In July, 50-year-old Sles Yeb, a soldier with Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Battalion 203, allegedly opened fire on residents of Kroch Chhmar district in Kampong Cham province, killing three people and injuring four.
Lay Nguon, the district police chief, said yesterday that an investigation into that case was ongoing.
Also in July, Phnom Penh police brought preliminary premeditated murder charges against a police officer accused of killing two people and injuring three others with an AK-47 in Sen Sok district.
Officials said recently that the suspect, Vong Saneath, was being held in pretrial detention, but that a trial date was not expected to be set until next year.