Officer was investigating illegal fishing in the Mekong wetlands when he went missing in June
The remains of a commune police chief in Kampong Cham province who went out to investigate illegal fishing on June 21 and never came back were found on Friday.
Provincial police said Chan Sophal, the 48-year-old police chief of Srey Santhor district’s Svay Por commune, had been patrolling alone near Mekong River wetlands when he disappeared without trace.
His body was found in the morning, said Kampong Cham provincial police chief Pen Rath.
“His body was found this morning by a villager. His remains were only bones, a skull, his shoes, his police uniform and his cap,” Rath said.
“It really is Mr Chan Sophal because his colleagues and family have recognised his name tag on the clothing.”
Suon Sokha, who became acting Svay Por commune police chief after Sophal’s disappearance, said his late colleague’s skull had been fractured in a way that suggested a blow to the back of the head.
Sophal had died in a marshy area where water hyacinth grows, three kilometres from the police station, Sokha added.
“According to our police’s preliminary investigation and research, it is a case of murder, likely caused by an argument.
“For my own conclusion, I assume he was killed by a group of illegal fishermen because they were angry that he had been cracking down on them or preventing them from fishing.”
Sokha added that illegal fishing had been rampant in the area, using equipment such as electric fishing gear and very fine nets.
“I am now very worried about my own security because the illegal fishermen are not scared of the police because they also have guns,” he said.
“But to combat illegal fishing and to protect the fish stock from being depleted during the prohibited season [June to September], I have to continue my boss’s hard work. I have to find those who have killed him and bring them to justice.”