Three Buddhist monks were charged yesterday with intentional murder by Kratie Provincial Court for the fatal beating of a young man in Chhlong district’s Kanhchea Pagoda last year, provincial police officials said yesterday.
The monks, aged between 18 and 20, were arrested on Tuesday following a year-long investigation, and accused of clubbing to death 18-year-old Meng Visal on January 1, 2011.
Nhem Thol, Phorn Keang Heng and Sim Sophea were living at the Kanhchea Pagoda, in Kanhchea commune, as student monks and had ongoing animosity with Visal, a drug addict who often sought refuge at the pagoda.
“The three jointly killed the victim by using a big stick and hitting him on the head, causing him to die in the pagoda,” Chhlong district police chief Major Hong Sokly said.
The suspects had been trying to expel the drug user from the pagoda for months and their actions allegedly escalated into violence as they sought to frighten Visal away, Sokly said. Repeated strikes with the heavy weapon, however, resulted in the victim’s death.
“After killing the victim, they tied him to a big stone and threw him into the river near the pagoda,” Sokly told the Post yesterday.
The corpse was found floating in a neighbouring village the following day.
The three suspects had joined the monkhood at the same pagoda shortly afterwards in an effort to “hide themselves from being arrested by police”, Sokly said.
The mother of the suspect was aware that three student monks at the pagoda had been threatening her son, and the complaint her family filed in the wake of the murder ultimately led police to arrest them, he added.
If found guilty, the three suspects will each face a prison term of at least 15 years for the murder.
Kanhchea pagoda’s chief abbot could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The three accused and their defence lawyers could also not be contacted.
To contact the reporter on this story: Buth Reaksmey Kongkea at firstname.lastname@example.org