KAMPOT provincial police said Monday that they were awaiting the outcome of an autopsy on the body of a Cambodian man discovered floating in a lake in Vietnam’s Kien Giang province on Saturday, and a rights group worker criticised the pace of the investigation, which is being conducted in concert with Vietnamese authorities.
Phorn Banh, 24, was found dead on Saturday afternoon in the lake – located around seven kilometres from his home in Kampong Trach district’s South Boeung Salang commune – with broken teeth and black marks on his chest and hands, according to villagers and rights workers. Police have not concluded whether the death was a homicide.
Kampong Trach district police Chief Khoun Sovan said no autopsy report from Vietnamese officials investigating the case had been received as of Monday.
“We are waiting for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow for them to send the documents [about the autopsy] through to our provincial police station,” he said. “We will not launch a separate autopsy, as Vietnamese authorities have technical teams to examine the body. We are just cooperating.”
Try Chhuon, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said, however, that the investigation was moving too slowly. “Kampong Trach district police officials seem to be very slow regarding this murder case,” she said.
She expressed frustration that Adhoc had been denied permission to launch its own investigaton, including an autopsy, before the Vietnamese report had been received.
“We reiterate our suspicion that the man’s death was a murder based on the testimony from a witness, Deb Sim, who was with the victim,” she said.
On Sunday, Try Chhuon said that the victim and Deb Sim, a relative, were leaving a wedding reception on a motorbike when they were involved in an accident with another bike in which a Vietnamese woman was injured. After fleeing the scene, they were chased by people with flashlights.
“Deb Sim arrived safely at home around midnight, but the victim had disappeared,” she said.
Mak Soeun, a 45-year-old resident of South Boeung Salang commune, said villagers there agreed that the death did not appear to be a straightforward drowning case.
“We in the commune believe 100 percent that his death was murder because his teeth were broken,” he said.