A murderer is being sought by police after a 43-year-old “sorcerer” was killed in Pursat province’s Kandieng district on Thursday night, after he allegedly provoked villagers with threats of black magic.
Cheng Poy, 43, was found dead after he was beaten near his home in the Damrei Sar village of Koh Chhum commune, while returning home from drinking palm wine with his friends in the village, Kandieng district deputy police chief Chheang Leng said yesterday.
He added that Cheng Poy’s body had sustained injuries to the back of his head and his face had been beaten beyond recognition, prompting police to conclude that a large wooden stick had been used by the murderer in the fatal attack.
“The villagers accused him of knowing sorcery and maybe [the killer] was someone who used to argue with him and threaten him,” he said yesterday.
Four men who lived near the victim’s house had died of an unknown disease that caused their stomachs to bloat since Cheng Poy moved to Damrei Sar village from Ampil Kangchrang village three years ago, he said, which had sparked accusations of witchcraft.
“The victim always provoked the other villagers and warned them to be careful or they would die like the others if they [attempted] to challenge him,” he said.
The police have yet to identify a suspect.
The authorities initially arrested the four people who were drinking palm wine the victim, but they were later found to not have been involved in the crime and were released.
Vann Seung, chief of Koh Chum commune, said yesterday that authorities were investigating the murder and that the victim was frequently drunk and argued with other villagers.
“Last year, his house was burned down by someone, who was arrested and detained in prison, because they hated him.
“I don’t know why the other villagers hate him and I don’t know whether he knows about sorcery or not,” he said.
“It is a superstition that some people believe in and it can be an excuse to accuse him in order to kill him.”
Last month The Post interviewed Rocham Char, a 52-year-old accused sorcerer in the Somkul village of Ratanakkiri’s O’Yadav district.
He has faced death threats, along with his 30 relatives, over his alleged practice of black magic, following a string of illnesses within the community.
Chhal Bean, chief of Somkul village, said yesterday that Rocham Char was now staying at a farm located outside the village, but residents were still demanding that his family be evicted from the community.
The chief has tried to negotiate with them but is waiting for district authorities to find a resolution.
“I try my best to talk to the villagers, but I don’t know if they will listen to me or not in the future,”he said.
“Now they are accusing me of supporting sorcery.”