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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villager charged in murder of sorcerer

Villager charged in murder of sorcerer

Kampong Thom Provincial Court has charged a man with intentional murder related to the killing of a sorcerer dating back 10 years, who the suspect claimed placed a spell on his mother and brother and caused their deaths.

Sar Thet, the Battambang provincial police chief, said Thorn Voeun was arrested on Monday in Kamrieng district for the murder of the sorcerer, known as Len, in November 2000.

Sar Thet said during interrogations, the suspect confessed to killing the victim after the deaths of his mother and brother from an unknown stomach illness.

“He said: ‘After the death of my mother and brother, I was told by many people that they died by the actions of the sorcerer’,” Sar Thet said. “He said: ‘Many days later, I was sitting and drinking wine ... in the village, when Len came to sit and drink with me. He said your mother and brother died by my sorcery’.”

Thorn Voeun told police that he became enraged and stabbed the victim three times in the back of the neck with a sickle before fleeing to Battambang.

Kampong Thom provincial prosecutor Sim Sameuy said Thorn Voeun was officially charged with intentional murder on Tuesday, following his transfer to Kampong Thom prison.

Um Sam Ath, a legal officer for the rights group Licadho, said such killings were common.

“The killing of sorcerers is still a serious concern in Cambodia, because many Cambodian people still believe in these kinds of things,” he said.

He said a Licadho report showed that eight sorcerers had been murdered since 2008, in Kampong Thom, Kampong Speu and Kampong Chhnang provinces.

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