Two men, who had reportedly confessed to being involved in the killing of local journalist Taing Try, have been released on bail from the custody of the Kratie provincial court.
Pin Heang, a police officer and the owner of the car allegedly driven by the killers, and Khem Pheakdey, a military police officer and alleged owner of the gun used to kill Try, were released yesterday, according to Hong Cheav Kun, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc.
Try was gunned down by the side of a road in Kratie province’s Snuol district on October 12 while investigating the illegal timber business in the area.
Soon after the killing, three members of the security forces were arrested for their alleged involvement in the crime.
The third suspect, former soldier La Narong, remains in custody.
“I do not know why the court has released them on bail,” Cheav Kun said. “The case is still in the questioning stage. I think there might be procedural problems.”
The two suspects confessed to their roles in the killing in October, prosecutor Thuch Panchak Santepheap said at the time. They shot Try, 49, in the head at about 1am on a road following an argument over the group’s alleged illegal logging activities.
The men could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.
Eight witnesses have also been summonsed to appear in court to testify later this week, according to Cheav Kun.
“Even though the witnesses have not appeared in front of the judge, the suspects have been released. Every concerned institution has to monitor this case to seek justice for [Try] and to promote freedom of expression in the Kingdom,” she said.
Kan Mardy, provincial prosecutor, could not be reached yesterday.
Sok Sam Oeun, a legal expert who heads the Cambodian Defenders Project, said that under normal circumstances, rights workers would advocate for the release of detainees on bail.
“But the courts must ensure there is no bribery to gain bail release,” he said.
Days after the killing, reporters in Snuol told the Post that they regularly took pay-offs from illegal loggers to suppress coverage of criminal activity.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DANIEL PYE