AMAN whose body was found floating in a lake in Vietnam’s Kien Giang province died by drowning, according to an official autopsy report that has angered relatives who believe the victim was murdered.
On Saturday, Phorn Banh, 24, was found dead in the lake roughly 7 kilometers from his home in Kandal province’s Kampong Trach district – reportedly with broken teeth and marks on his chest and hands, according to villagers and local rights groups. At the time, witnesses noted that the man’s shirt was found 300 metres from his body.
Provincial police Chief Phlang Phearin said the autopsy, which was performed by Vietnamese authorities, had revealed that the man drowned – a finding that was endorsed by both Vietnamese and Cambodian officials.
“An examination of the man’s skull found no injury resulting from beating or torture,” he said.
Phlang Phearin said the deceased had been drinking Saturday before he crashed his motorbike in a collision that injured a Vietnamese woman
Both Phorn Banh and a relative, Deb Sim, fled the scene, the police chief said.
Deb Sim made it home, while Phorn Banh panicked and fled through rice fields and lakes, said Phlang Phearin, who said the autopsy report rebutted speculation that the man had been beaten.
“I would like to clarify people’s primary conclusions. It is doubtful that the man’s death was due to beating and torture,” he said.
“Reports of his teeth being broken and black marks on his chest and hands were not true. He actually died from drowning.”
Scepticism greets report
But a representative from a local rights group said she couldn’t trust the autopsy report because it was handled solely by Vietnamese authorities.
“I don’t have an understanding about their techniques of examining the man’s body,” said Try Chhuon, provincial coordinator for Adhoc. “His body had broken teeth and black marks on his chest and hands. His rice plate and shirt were separate from where his body was found.”
Phorn Banh’s uncle, Vanh Iv, 57, said the autopsy report was unjust.
“The conclusion is really unacceptable. [Phorn Banh] must have been beaten and killed,” he said, noting that Deb Sim reported that several people chased the pair with flashlights after the incident.
It remains unclear what options are open to Phorn Banh’s family at this point.
“Although I am not happy with the conclusion, I must finally accept this injustice anyway because we are very poor and have no idea how to complain,” Vanh Iv said.
“We have no hope of protesting.”