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Wife describes slain journalist’s close call

Wife describes slain journalist’s close call

The son of a provincial military police commander sideswiped journalist Hang Serei Oudom’s car with his government vehicle months before Oudom was found hacked to death in the back of a car in Ratanakkiri province, his widow and her lawyer said yesterday.

The officer, King Seanglay, was singled out for ties to illegal logging in the last story Oudom wrote for his newspaper, Vorakchun Khmer, on September 6. Oudom disappeared three days later.

Seanglay was briefly questioned along with a dozen others about Oudom’s murder, but investigators released him the same day.

Song Bunthanorm, chief of the serious crimes police office in Ratanakkiri province, said he did not know whether the journalist and Seanglay had a dispute with each other.

Police later arrested and charged a couple, An Bunheng, aka Eng, and Sim Vy, who ran a karaoke parlour in their home.

According to a complaint filed by Oudom’s wife and mother this week, Bunheng called Oudom at 7pm just before he left his house and didn’t come back.

The following day, the complaint states, Oudom’s wife went to Bunheng’s house in Boeung Kanseng commune to look for her husband. Bunheng told her he had not seen him.

Bunthanorm said the police did not feel the need to look further into the relationship between Seanglay and Oudom.

“We questioned him that time and detained only the spouses; police are suspicious of them,” he said. “Now it’s at the investigation stage of the court.”

Ratanakkiri provincial military police commander Kim Reaksmey, the father of Seanglay, could not be contacted.

Oudom’s wife, Im Chanthy, told the Post on Wednesday Seanglay drove his Hummer into her husband’s car, swiping the right mirror, while both were driving in the direction of Phnom Penh. He then sped on.

Chanthy has not mentioned any enmity between her husband and others in previous interviews.

“I don’t know what dispute they had with each other. I just told my lawyer about this story,” Chanthy said.

“I never knew my husband to have disputes with others. He’s a gentle husband.”

The arrested couple are in detention at the provincial prison on charges of premeditated murder.

Lawyer Hok Phalla, provided by the NGO Adhoc for Oudom’s family, said the alleged collision happened just before the Khmer New Year in April.

“The wife’s interview with us is a new lead for the court to investigate, because during the police stage or complaint to the court, the wife did not talk about this accident,” he said.

Investigating judge Loch Lao said he would summon more people to be questioned, but could not reveal how many.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]

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